We are seeing Japan's economy recovering moderately but in a sustained manner. The turnaround of the economy has been contributing to the growth of employment opportunities. However, many industries are facing serious labor shortages, reflecting the graying of society. As part of the effort to tackle this issue, improving productivity by offering services or additional values with innovative information technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), robots, and Fintech, is growing.
Also in the retail sector the trend for labor-saving and automation is gaining momentum to address the shortage of manpower. The use of RFID as well as conventional barcode systems has been spreading, not only in the fields of logistics, but also in the management of merchandise and sales in stores.
For example, in the apparel industry RFID have come into use for fast self-checkout machines, instead of in the past only being used for the control of logistics and inventory. Besides that, various pilots aiming to realize automated or unattended store management are underway in and outside Japan. Moreover, it is expected that RFID will be applied to traceability systems or marketing by sharing detailed data of individual products which are captured through RFID or other tools. We will be committed to promoting such developments more than ever.
Meanwhile, the Internet is penetrating deeper into our daily life. It is said that the "moment of truth," the phase in which a customer decides to select or purchase merchandise, comes at an earlier stage. In the past, the moment of truth was identified firstly when a customer touched the product at a store, and then secondly when the customer actually used the product after purchasing it. Today however the first moment of truth comes when a customer begins searching for and gathering information about a product on the Internet, before actually experiencing it at a store.
In the wake of the shift of consumers' behavior caused by widespread use of the Internet and digitalization in our society, GS1 Japan is striving to deal with these changes as a member of GS1. In particular we will continue with the GS1 SmartSearch pilot for the second year in a row. Also, we remain committed to expanding the usage of Mulpi, the application that can read barcodes on products and reference their information in multiple languages.
We believe that these efforts to utilize GS1 standards will support consumers whenever they face the moment of truth to obtain accurate and credible information anytime they need.
We look forward to your continued support in the future.