Toshiba install a robot receptionist at a high-end Tokyo department store

Aiko Chihira, as the robot is known, is a female humanoid that has been developed to look, talk and move as much like a human as possible. "We are aiming to develop a robot that can gradually do what a human does,” says Hitoshi Tokuda, manager of the business development division group at Toshiba. β€œThis is a great opportunity to see what role our humanoid can play in this kind of [customer service] environment.”
The robot can currently provide information in Japanese from a pre-recorded script, and there are plans to extend its capabilities to other languages. A system of 43 motors enables Aiko Chihira to closely mimic human movements, even down to blinking smoothly, so much so that it is unnervingly lifelike. Developer Hiroshi Ishiguro aims to make people reconsider what it means to be human, and now shoppers at Mitsukoshi will be amongst to do that.
Robotic shop assistants are just one example of how the retail sector is changing with the adoption of various forms of technology. Retailers such as Kate Spade are augmenting physical locations using digital technology as part of a wider movement towards providing a unique and entertaining in-store experience.

The popularity of online shopping means that physical locations have had to move beyond traditional retail models in order to capture the customer's interest. Other initiatives such as STORY offer more of a cultural experience rather than a simple exchange of goods for money.