Avery Dennison partners with Japanese government to enable frictionless “convenience store of the future”

28 February 2019

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), has brought ecosystem partners including Avery Dennison together to address labor and supply chain challenges in the country’s retail industry. Following a successful pilot in which three convenience stores added RFID tags to products to improve item-level inventory monitoring, METI is targeting full roll out across all stores in Japan by 2025. The solution utilises Avery Dennison’s latest RFID innovation, WaveSafe. Retailers involved include ?Seven-Eleven Japan, FamilyMart, Lawson, Ministop, and JR East Retail Net and Japan Association of Chain Drug Stores (JACDS).

METI launched the convenience and drug store RFID initiative in 2017 as a step towards addressing labor shortages and cost increases resulting from Japan’s ageing population and declining birthrate, as well as reducing the burden on in-store staff created by supply chain issues from traceability and authenticity to wastage and returns. The long-term ambition of the initiative is to enable stores to be entirely unstaffed, with RFID enabling customers to pay for their basket of goods automatically on leaving the store.

The RFID rollout will also facilitate automated dynamic product pricing and advertising optimisation. In a move to reduce food wastage, shelf-mounted RFID readers automatically scan the product tags, identify units that are approaching their ‘best by’ or ‘use by’ date, and credit the buyer with discounts on those items at the point of purchase. Meanwhile, shoppers who scan a product tag will be presented with additional product information via digital shelf signage.

Avery Dennison’s WaveSafe technology was critical to facilitating the full rollout of RFID. The result of 10 years of R&D, the WaveSafe tag is able to safely withstand up to five minutes in a 950 watt microwave, opening up new market applications for RFID in the food industry as for the first time RFID can be integrated into packaging and labelling for food products that are microwaveable. Previously, RFID had difficulties when used on food products that needed to be microwave defrosted or cooked in the packaging. Stores participating in the initiative will use WaveSafe RFID on microwaveable products and other non-microwaveable RFID solutions for other types of product.

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