For all that it has the major publishers and other bookstore owners up in arms, the Amazon Books bookstore is actually fairly conservative as digitally-enhanced physical goods stores go. Although customers can price-check books with their phones, it still needs traditional cashiers. But if you want to see what such a store might look like with no cashiers, take a look at this automated grocery store in Sweden that just opened two months ago.
The story goes that IT professional Robert Ilijason was at home alone with his toddler son when he dropped his last jar of baby food and had to drive for twenty minutes to find a store that was open to buy more. Wanting to save other people from being in that sort of situation, he decided to open an always-open convenience store that would require no permanent staff.
Customers access the store by using a smartphone app to unlock the door, and then they scan the goods they purchase with the app as they put them in the cart. Then once a month they get invoiced for the goods they’ve purchased. As a friend said when I showed him the story, it’s like a 21st-century automat.
Ilijason has implemented some security measures, such as security cameras to keep customers honest and an alert if the door stays open for a long time. The biggest problem the store’s run into is that it can be a little hard for older people to understand. He’s considering hiring an employee to stay on hand a few hours each day to help customers figure it out. Ilijason hopes that his store can serve as a model to help bring small local grocery stores back to Swedish villages, where they’ve died out in favor of larger stores in neighboring towns.
In previous stories we’ve covered about Amazon opening further bookstores, some sources have suggested Amazon might try using RFID readers that let any good removed from the store effectively “scan itself.” Now here’s a real-world example of something similar that seems to be doing fairly well. Ilijason’s store might just serve as a model for Amazon, too.
Image credit: Here.