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Is Sweden’s First Unstaffed Convenience Store the Future?

March 1, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

Our smartphones have undoubtedly made much of our lives a hell of a lot easier these days, and it almost seems as if there’s no limit to what these small computers can do for us. As smartphones become more and more complex in their software, they also become more flexible. In the case of Android, there’s no shortage of what people can do with the software running on their devices. Apps like Uber and Google Maps have changed the way we get from A to B and in Sweden, a new convenience store opened in January of this year with one crucial difference; it doesn’t have any staff. Instead, the 45-square meter store asks that patrons just remember their smartphone in order to shop.

39-year old Robert Ilijason is now the proud owner of a 24-hour convenience store in the Viken region of the country. Unlike any other convenience store however, this one features no staff at all. Ilijason handles the restocking of the shelves every now and then, and the rest is left up to the customers themselves. How this works is through a fingerprint scanner at the store’s door and then users are asked to scan the barcode of anything they end up buying using the bespoke app just for the new store. Customers are then billed for whatever they’ve bought each month and to keep things secure, the store is watched 24/7 by a sextet of CCTV cameras. Ilijason himself jokes that “I live nearby and can always run down here with a crowbar”. The store is set up to send him a text message whenever the door has been opened for longer than 8 seconds at a time, or if someone tries to simply kick it down.

Having said that, Ilijason notes that there haven’t been any incidents of theft since opening in January of this year. Opening a store with no staff is a pretty great idea, especially for rural areas where the next-nearest store might be a 20 – 30 minute drive away. This way, a local village can have a store with the little things they might need on hand whenever they need the. The hope is to spread the idea to further villages and towns that might not have many stores nearby, and if the idea catches on it might not be too long before stores like this open up elsewhere around the globe.