Lawson launches first self-service convenience store in Tokyo

By SoraNews24

It had to happen. The expansion of major convenience stores in Japan has accelerated so much that they all began to have trouble finding enough people willing and competent enough to staff them. First, they began hiring foreign residents in large numbers and made some major changes accommodations such as simplifying communication and automating certain aspects of service.

Now, major chain Lawson has reached the point where we all knew this was heading: a fully self-serve convenience store. At a renovated location in Tokyo, the first Lawson Smartphone Pay started on Oct 9.

▼ This Lawson is in the ground floor of the JEBL Akiba Square Building.


You might notice some unusual features inside this store as a result. For example, the fried foods such as Lawson’s legendary Karaage-kun chicken are self-serve rather than being only accessible by the cashier as they traditionally are.


There’s also an eat-in counter equipped with chargers, USB ports, and tablets on which you can read digital magazines and newspapers.


We sent our reporter to be our Lawson Smartphone Pay pioneer and try it out. First, he had to download and install the official Lawson app on his smartphone. From there it was the usual song and dance: agree to the terms of service and create a Lawson account. You can also register any point cards you happen to have which Lawson normally accepts, like Ponta or d-Point.

After you’re all set up, when you enter the Lawson you can just boot up the Smartphone Pay feature of the Lawson app. It’s easy to find. Just look for the woman dressed like a Hamburglar — which is appropriate because you’re about to feel like you’re stealing.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 14.27.39.png

From there you have two buttons. The left one with the concentric circles will automatically detect which Lawson you’re in and connect to it using your phone’s GPS and Bluetooth. The right button opens up a QR code reader which you can also use to connect to the store.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 14.28.53.png

Once you’re connected, your phone becomes a barcode scanner. Just take the item you want to buy and show its barcode to the phone.


Whenever you’re ready, you can go to the checkout screen to confirm your purchases and add or remove more of the same items easily without having to scan each one repeatedly.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 14.30.58.png

If everything checks out, just choose you payment method such as Apple Pay or credit card, and then confirm the transaction.

And then you can just waltz out of there with your stuff.

To a lot of people this will feel really awkward at first. After all, how can you be sure it really went through properly and you won’t be mistakenly brought up on shoplifting charges?

Lawson anticipated this and added several features to ease consciences and make sure no thievery, accidental or otherwise, has taken place. After the purchase is made, a confirmation email is sent, and a special QR code is given that can be read by an in-store device to show that both sides are aware of the purchase.

▼ Just show your QR code to this scanner and you can be sure your purchase happened.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 14.33.05.png

If that’s still not enough, your entire purchase history is recorded in the app which also gives you a lifelike digital receipt to ease your worries.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 14.34.46.png

Lawson has really been stepping up their tech game in recent weeks, with this service coming at about the same time as they joined the ChargeSpot network of rentable smartphone chargers. Actually, this particular store in Akihabara is one of six Lawson stores which currently has a ChargeSpot stand.

Smartphone Pay is a bit of process to set up, but the convenience is remarkable.

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Handy portable battery charging service now available in downtown Tokyo for just 108 yen

-- Titans attack Lawson convenience stores, bring tons of anime goodies with them

-- Japanese convenience store’s registers play Final Fantasy victory theme for special items 【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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This sort of self checkout system is long overdue in a high trust society like Japan.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

looks complicated as hell, why not just do it same way family mart runs self pay counter for a year already...., no accounts needed and just use your credit card or suica...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Sadly we are playing catch up, Chinese have this already and Amazon physical stores in the US also..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What if you want to use cash?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

More jobs gone. Hope they have something else those workers can do rather than apply for unemployment (if Japan has that).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It sounds a bit complicated but we’ll soon get used to this new checkout system. The government is planning to bring in 500,000 foreign workers to cope with labor shortage. If fully self-service convenience stores spread throughout Japan, many new immigrants will be redundant the moment they arrive in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


More jobs gone. 

Gone to app makers, allowing opening more stores.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Less and less human contact. Is it really better? No doubt these 'advances' (or cost cutting measures? ) will gradually make humans get more and more nervous/inept when they have to actually interact with a real person. It's already happening after all.....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I bought my first self-service gasoline in Ibaraki last week. I wanted to top off the tank before returning the rental car, and although I fed money into a machine beside the pump, to claim a refund I would have had to walk to the cashier. Since I would only get back 252 yen and was in a hurry to return the car, I just said to hell with it and drove off. Automation has its downsides...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ooohhh, buy 1 get 1 free Kurage-Kun, great idea!!

although the thrill dissapears once you realize your snack has probably been previously handled by someone who dosen't wash their hands....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would hope that they do his better than it is done in Britain. Many supermarkets and mini-marts in Britain have self-service checkout. The hardware is wonky at best when it is not completely inoperative. You have to do things "just right" or the software decides you're trying to make off without paying for something and sounds an alarm.

Because the hardware and software malfunctions so frequently, it is not unusual for a supermarket to have one or two people standing around to intervene when something goes wrong.

Further, the equipment is hard to use if you already have other shopping and it is not at all friendly to people with disabilities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because the hardware and software malfunctions so frequently, it is not unusual for a supermarket to have one or two people standing around to intervene when something goes wrong.

Same in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What a Royal pain....!

ill use cash and be gone in 10 seconds!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The first self service convenience store has existed for a century. They're called vending machines.

I'd envision Wal-Mart aisles being 20-wide vending machines on either side, pay-as-you-go in the future. I'd be fine with that. I prefer my human interactions with those who want to be there.

Automation should allow humans to pursue their interests without fear of property being taken (even if paid off - property tax is rent to govt) or other financial worries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If all the items in Lawson become cheaper because they don't have to pay staff, then I'm all for it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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