The physical store will be ubiquitous and automated !
Auchan did it !
The frictionless store imagined and launched end of 2016 by Amazon generated a big buzz but it seems that the real revolution could come from China.
Bingobox (a young chinese startup, that just leveraged 15 millions Dollars) and the messaging app Wechat, (900 millions users) launched together a new concept of type of convenient store, 100% automated, mobile (it can be driven thanks to a mobile app) employee free : the convenient store of the future !
This convenient store stays therefore open 24/7 and offers a wide range of everyday life products. It looks like a container, with a total lenght of 5 meters and it can hold more than 500 different references.
The access is possible throught a specific identification with a personal QRCode gernerated by WeChat. Once inside the container, the customer can pick up all the products he wants and he can then leave without having any contact with a member of staff or cashier. All this is made possible thanks to an advanced AI mixed with image recognition and very performant RFID tools. WeChat allow the client to pay for his purchases throught the QRCode generated by WeChat wallet (Alipay wallet is also accepted here).
In case of problem, it is possible to contact an advisor to help thanks to a calling button, accessible 24/7, via a screen above the cash register.
The ‘’just walk out’’ presented by AmazonGo (currently in beta mode) is already available in China to the general public in Shanghai. It has the particularity to be ubiquitous thanks to the mobility offered by its points of sale.
Wechat and Bingobox offer this service through a white-label to all chinese distributors.
Auchan, with a strong presence in China, is one of the first retailers to test this new type of store. This mobile convenient store allows the company to explore new shopping areas, and to test new merchandising at a very low cost ! C
Indeed, this ‘mini Auchan’ costs, per square meter, 20% less than a classic store. This is mainly due to the absence of staff. It allows these mini Auchan to be very competitive and to offer product 20% less expensive than those at Auchan supermarkets. It therefore created a real buzz.
Finally Auchan counts on the very solid and influent social network (Wechat) to generated traffic to the ‘AuchanBingobox’.
What if the automated delivery presented by companies such as twinswheel or Starship Technologies was actually going to be replaced by this type of “mobile automated store” !?
Shanghai seems to be an appropriate place for this retail automation. We can indeed point out a startup Wheelys moby-Mart that launched its first connected store with no staff in March 2017. It is called Wheelys 247 and it also moves from one place to another on demand !
What if Amazon Go was to be extended for Wholefoods…