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Business trends

China, Japan try cashier-free stores -- for different reasons

Poor service, labor shortage no problem as digital tech replaces workers

A customer chooses items at an automated F5 Future Store in Guangzhou.

GUANGZHOU/TOKYO -- Asia's two biggest economies, China and Japan, are different in many respects, but two things they have in common are large numbers of convenience stores and an enthusiasm for automation. Not surprisingly, both countries are combining the two, moving toward a convenience-store industry that largely run by automation, with few or no human staff.

Yet the two countries are doing this for different reasons. In China, the spread of cashier-free shops comes in the context of an online retailing boom, while in Japan, the industry is seeking ways to cope with a worsening labor shortage.

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