Although ecommerce seems to be king these days, retail shopping is still quite relevant, especially as it relates to convenience stores.
This doesn't mean that convenience stores have to remain the same, however. Luckily, several owners also feel this way and have, therefore, introduced unmanned stores in several locations.
Since these stores have virtually no employees – barring those needed for restocking - they can offer goods at lower prices. They also allow customers skip the usual checkout process and save some time.
This type of store holds the promise of changing the way convenience stores operate across the board for the better and should be paid more attention to. With that being said, here are 3 incredible unmanned stores that could change the way we shop.
Located in the Swedish town of Viken, Näraffär is a 45 sq. ft. convenience store that's shaking things up in a small town. This innovative offering provides customers with items such as milk, bread, and other small, essential grocery items and is open 24/7.
To enter, customers need to have the Swedish banking app BankID installed. Phones are used to scan items and customers are sent a bill at the end of the month. In order to deter shoplifting, the owner of the store has 6 security cameras installed.
In addition, an alert is automatically sent to the owner if any unusual door activity occurs.
Tao Café is a 2,152-sq.ft. store in Hangzhou, China. Customers can purchase beverages, fast food and snacks at the store. It is rather large and can accommodate 50 people at one time.
An array of sensors detect when items are taken from shelves and payment is made automatically from customers' e-payment accounts on their phones.
There are 200 BingoBox unmanned stores across China. This makes them a force to be reckoned with. From the looks of it, these stores are slightly bigger than a bus shelter. This is acceptable, however, given their convenience store nature.
Customers can pick up tidbits such as packaged food and drinks from BingoBox locations. Entry is gained by scanning a QR code at the door and registration through WeChat. Items are paid for by placing them on a scanner in the stores and scanning a QR code. Payment issues can be resolved via video chat with a BingoBox employee at the scanner.
The lower prices and conveniences offered are definitely a plus but the real kicker is the ease with which this concept enables 24-hour stores. If you happen to need something at an obscure hour, this type of store will probably be open since it needs no staff to run.
China is also clearly a major player in this area. You may have heard earlier about Amazon Go, which is Amazon's take on the unmanned store. It is undoubtedly impressive in terms of the technology at play.
However, in terms of sheer volume, companies in China like BingoBox are really taking this concept to even higher heights.