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5 convenience store chains eye electronic tags by ’25

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Five major convenience store chains will aim to attach electronic tags to all goods sold in their outlets by 2025 to streamline store management, the chains and the government said Tuesday.

The tags, usually thinner than one millimeter, are integrated circuit chips containing data about products, including prices and use-by dates. The information can be read and displayed on devices through wireless communications.

The firms see the introduction of the identification tags as a measure to tackle labor shortages in the industry amid the aging population and low birthrate.

Using the tags, the store operators also hope to optimize the whole of the production, distribution and sales processes for products they sell, by sharing sales data with makers and distributors.

The five companies that agreed on the 2025 target with the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry are Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Lawson Inc., FamilyMart Co., Ministop Co. and JR East Retail Net Co., which operates the NewDays stores.

Unlike bar codes, the ID tags allows simultaneous scanning of multiple products. This helps reduce burdens on shop clerks at cash registers and enable speedier payments.

The tags will also contribute to reducing the amount of food that must be discarded due to expiration, as they allow store chains to check inventory status in real time. For the wider use of electronic tags, the per-unit price needs to drop below one yen from ¥10-¥20 at present.

The five firms and the ministry have decided to use common standards for ID tags and call on a wider range of companies, including makers and distributors, to adopt them.

The ID tags “will not only address manpower shortages but also increase customer convenience,” Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu said, expressing hope that the industry will “work on this together.”

The ministry hopes to begin experiments as early as 2018 to put the ID tags into practical use at the five chains.Speech

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