Good Thinking

No clerks required in world's first unmanned convenience store

No clerks required in world's ...
Now you can buy your guilty 3 am snacks without facing a human being with the launch of Wheelys' 24/7, unmanned, app-controlled convenience stores
Now you can buy your guilty 3 am snacks without facing a human being with the launch of Wheelys' 24/7, unmanned, app-controlled convenience stores
View 4 Images
Now you can buy your guilty 3 am snacks without facing a human being with the launch of Wheelys' 24/7, unmanned, app-controlled convenience stores
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Now you can buy your guilty 3 am snacks without facing a human being with the launch of Wheelys' 24/7, unmanned, app-controlled convenience stores
Customers scan the items they want and upon leaving the store their credit card is automatically charged
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Customers scan the items they want and upon leaving the store their credit card is automatically charged
While these proof-of-concept images are obviously not the final products that will be present we can't help but be reminded of dystopian sci-fi films where groceries have plain utilitarian packaging
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While these proof-of-concept images are obviously not the final products that will be present we can't help but be reminded of dystopian sci-fi films where groceries have plain utilitarian packaging
The doors to the store open automatically when the customer approaches with their app-registered smartphone
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The doors to the store open automatically when the customer approaches with their app-registered smartphone
View gallery - 4 images

Innovative Swedish company Wheelys is opening up the world's first app-controlled, staff-free convenience store in Shanghai. Accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the prototype store is designed to make it cheaper and easier for small businesses to get into the retail game.

Wheelys started out in 2014 designing modular bike-cafes with a view of selling the bikes cheaply to those who couldn't afford the cost of opening a bricks and mortar cafe. The conceit was extraordinarily successful, and by late 2016 the company had rolled out over 550 bikes across 60 countries.

Now the company is attempting to do a similar thing with its Wheely247 concept. After a successful regional test store set up in a small Swedish town last year, this Shanghai store is Wheelys proof-of-concept for a busier, urban environment.

The doors to the store open automatically when the customer approaches with their app-registered smartphone
The doors to the store open automatically when the customer approaches with their app-registered smartphone

The customer installs an app on their phone, which allows them to access the store. When inside they simply scan the barcode of the goods they want and upon leaving the store their credit card will be charged for their purchases.

A security camera monitors the staff-less store with a view on preventing theft. Presumably, as customers are logged through the app on entering the store, they can be identified if they are witnessed taking objects without scanning.

Customers scan the items they want and upon leaving the store their credit card is automatically charged
Customers scan the items they want and upon leaving the store their credit card is automatically charged

Much like Wheelys' strategy selling its bike-cafes, the company's ultimate goal is to license the technology so any retailer can integrate it into their pre-existing stores. In the company's words, "What Uber did for taxis, we do for retail."

The system is somewhat similar to the recently announced checkout-free stores that Amazon is planning on launching. Wheelys' technology is not as comprehensively advanced as Amazon's, which doesn't even require individual product scanning, but the ability for the system to be bought and implemented by small retailers certainly gives it an upper hand.

The Wheelys Shanghai store is currently in its beta-testing phase and customers wanting to access it must apply through the company's website. Its prototype store certainly has a dystopian, Repo Man-like vibe, with its Wheelys' branded goods and a look reminiscent of a giant walk-in vending machine, but it's not hard to envision a future full of retail shops like this. Surly convenience store clerks may be a thing of the past sooner than we think.

Take a tour through the Wheelys unmanned convenience store in the video below.

Source: Wheelys

247 STORE WHEELYS

View gallery - 4 images
7 comments
Jose Gros
The way this 'Convenience store' works with no persons is the kind of arrangement I'd like for Pharmacies, this will completely block the women, as mostly are women, behind the Desk, selling prescription drugs, even dangerous ones, without a medical order. The other possibility is having a fierce dog attacking the staff and customers upon attempts for selling drugs without a medical prescription. Enough is enough, I'm fed up!
McDesign
Another benefit of a $15 minimum wage.
Bruce H. Anderson
So, only those with the app can enter and purchase. Keeps out the riff-raff I suppose. The selection seems a little sparse. It can't be totally unmanned, because someone has to restock the place. And what about "cleanup on aisle 4"? Interesting nonetheless.
Bob Flint
This is a bricks & mortar store, with security needs, & restocking. Might as well be outside, with more locations vending machines have been around for decades...
Stephen N Russell
Expand this, add more merchandise variety alone & bring to the US for High Volume Traffic areas IE Airports, Malls, Harbors, Theme parks, Media sites, Colleges & Univs, Awesome Or opt for wristband to enter store?? Or smartphone 2
Nik
I'm an 'oldy,' who cant be bothered with fiddling with a mobile phone, except as an emergency device, and there are probably many more like me, so thats one large chunk of the market that this system will not be used by. The next question that occurs, is, how secure will this system be from hackers?
HowardStapleton
If all the packaging is identical, then having to read the labels for each one without the aid of pictures or varying colors/design would be annoying and counter-productive.