February 21, 2020
The retail world is changing fast, so an unmanned store is no big surprise. The unmanned store is a retail concept where it’s all about self service and self-checkout without any staff. Everything is fully automated when you leave the store and the amount of your purchases is immediately debited from your credit card. The technology is ready, and it fully complies with the 24/7 society in which we live, without the store staff as a limiting factor. If other stores are closed, you can always go to an unmanned store. Due to the speed of shopping and payment, the customer experience has improved significantly.
Unmanned stores already were a growing trend, but the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly boosted the growth. People want to have as little contact as possible with others and when entering the shop most want to get in and out quickly and safely. An unmanned store fits perfectly in this picture, since there are fewer people in the store at the same time, the queues are less long and most of the time there is hardly any staff present. A digital signal will notify an employee when a product is out of stock or when to stock is too low. Only when the shelves need to be refilled a staff member will come by to resupply.
Convenience is the main value proposition of unmanned stores. As a customer you are able to get whatever whenever, which will boost store traffic and promote loyalty. Of course there are challenges involved. Products in an unmanned store are much more prone to theft, there is a higher chance of vandalism and people could stay in the store much longer than necessary. Where there are challenges, there are solutions. Like cameras, scanners, alarm systems, customer registration, collecting credit card details, etc. It is important to know who is in the store and when, so it is always possible to find the person who acted in an inappropriate way. There are much more pros and cons to this concept, but one thing is sure: the unmanned store will be more and more prominent in our society.