Speedy and convenient, the payment option is no snack run speedbump.

Convenience stores are like oases dotting the Japanese landscape, filled with all sorts of tasty food and drinks. Another thing you’re increasingly likely to find inside, though, is a self-checkout register.

Such systems have taken a while to catch on in Japan, but more and more convenience stores are installing them. So on a recent shopping run to our local branch of convenience store chain Lawson, we decided to make use of their self-checkout terminal and skip the regular checkout line.

The terminal has a touchscreen, scanner, and card reader. To get things started, you tap on the corresponding button to select your payment method: electronic money, credit card, a smartphone barcode payment app, or Lawson loyalty points.

Last year new regulations started requiring stores in Japan to charge for shopping bags, so the next question is how many bags you need. Lawson charges three yen (about three cents U.S.) per bag, and you can select the number by tapping the plus and minus buttons under the text レジ袋1枚 3円, then tapping the button that says 必要. On the other hand, if you’ve brought your own shopping bag or simply don’t need one at all, tap 不要.

Then it’s time to start scanning your purchases. Attached to the terminal is a barcode reader, so just point it at the code on each item’s package.

Onscreen you’ll see a running tally of the number of items you’ve scanned, the amount of sales tax on them, and you current total.

▼ For example, here we’ve scanned one item, with sales tax of 12 yen, for an after-sales tax total of 168 yen.

Once you’ve scanned everything you’re buying, tap the orange “purchase” (購入) button.

Next comes the loyalty point part of the transaction. If you’ve got a Lawson Ponta or D Point membership, you can slide the card through the reader (after tapping the left blue button), scan its barcode (right button), or tap your phone on the receptor if you have it linked to your account (center button), and you’ll get whatever points you’ve earned through this purchase. If you don’t have a membership, simply tap the gray button that says 持っていない.

That brings us up to the final step, swiping your credit card, tapping your electronic money card, or scanning the barcode for your mobile payment app.

And with that, the virtual clerk thanks you for your patronage and reminds you to make sure you don’t forget your phone, card, or any other belongings as you leave.

All in all, it’s a speedy efficient process. Really the only downside is that Lawson’s self-checkout system doesn’t let you pay with cash, but with prepaid train fare cards like Japan Railway’s Suica doubling as electronic money cards, that’s not such a big problem, and if the end result is speedier shopping and less loose change rattling around in our pockets, it’s a tradeoff we’re happy to be able to choose.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]