In a world increasingly shaped by technology and automation, a Swedish IT specialist just opened the first unstaffed store: hi-tech, always open, with no lines, and without human employees. Is this the supermarket of the future?
Nowadays, self check-out lines have become ordinary at grocery stores, but Robert Ilijason’s supermarket takes the idea to the next level. At his convenience store in the small town of Viken, Sweden, you won’t find any cashier, the entire shop is unmanned and everything is done using a smartphone.
Ilijason’s decided to open this store because one night, after accidentally dropping the last jar of baby food for his son on the floor, he had to drive 20 minutes across town to find a supermarket that was still open. He has since made it his mission to offer convenience to anyone in a similar situation. To make this possible, Ilijason had to get rid of human staff and design the store to function autonomously.
Customers are required to register for the service and download a smartphone app called Näraffar (neighborhood store), which they can use to unlock the door to enter the shop and scan the products they wish to buy. At the end of each month, the app sends out an invoice to charge users for their purchases.
So far the technology worked smoothly, but the bigger challenge is to involve elderly residents of the town and get them used to the change. Ilijason is aware of the fact that in his village he can not expect a big success, but his hope is to see the concept developed all over the world.