We’ve discussed on these pages before the reality of robots taking over human jobs. Well, the concept has recently gone to the next level. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on your point of view.
Tired of long lines in your favorite grocery store? People are now trying to create stores where you can buy without cash or human contact. We’ve got 5 of them:
1.) Shopping with smartphones in Sweden.
Robert Ilijason of Sweden is running a store requires a smartphone or tablet for customers to complete their shopping. According to the Associated Press, Ilijason’s customers download an application and register to shop at his store. They unlock the door by swiping a finger on their cell phones and then scan whatever they want to buy. They receive a monthly invoice for everything they purchase.
The only time Ilijason has to enter his own store is to receive deliveries and stock shelves when his inventory gets low. Security also isn’t a problem, because required registration collects all users’ information, and the store uses six surveillance cameras. Ilijason also receives a text message if a break-in is attempted, or the front door stays open too long.
Ilijason’s store has been in operation since January.
A top provider of automated merchandising, ShelfX, is trying their hand at unattended shopping. According to the ShelfX website, patrons use an X card, smartphone or payment card to purchase items. The total is charged to the customer’s account, and they receive a receipt through email.
The ShelfX X manager app is mobile optimized and can be accessed through any device with an Internet connection. The x card site provides payment options and activity records.
3.) The Vault.
The Vault is a self-service coffee shop, bookstore, bakery, and center for the arts in Valley City, North Dakota that operates completely on the honor system. Customers buy coffee or whatever they desire and leave their money on the counter. The Vault also has a slot to deposit money and checks, and a credit card reader.
Their website claims that Vault customers paid 15% more than the store’s asking price for items during the first seven months they were open. The Vault says they could make more money by hiring employees because 9 out of 10 customers leave when they see the store is self-serve.
The last two stores on our list didn’t turn out so well. Not every attempt is successful.
4.) + 5.) Beijing and Hangzhou.
They tried an honesty test in Beijing and Hangzhou and failed miserably. According to The Nanfang, the stores removed their cashiers for “Internet Credit Day,” and a number of customers took items without paying for them. People were caught on camera taking many expensive items from the store, along with costly cigarette and alcohol products.
Final financial numbers said that the Hangzhou store received 13,700 in Chinese currency for 16,700 worth of items, approximately a less than honest 82% return rate.