Amazon recently opened his checkout-free store in Seattle. This concept store called Amazon Go is already available to the Amazon employees, and should be open to the public in early 2017.
With different technologies, China is also launching a vision of the future of convenience stores, called Bingo Box.
The Key Is WeChat
WeChat is a big thing in China. It allows people not only to communicate, but also to pay or to scan QR codes, which are widely popular in China.
With the popularity of WeChat, the start-up BingoBox, opened a completely staff-less store in Zhongshan City (Guangdong Province).
The first step to access the store is to scan the QR Code outside, and to confirm your phone number through BingoBox’s WeChat official account.
After that verification, you can enter the store and pick up the articles you want. The check-out is made with a scanner on which you place the articles. In the end, you can pay with either WeChat Pay or Alipay apps, and exit the store scanning the QR code inside BingoBox.
A promising development in China
While BingoBox can still improve (scanning the QR code at the entrance can be slightly too long), it could quickly spread across China for several reasons:
- China is a dynamic society that is not afraid of change and who is ready to try new things.
- Mobile payment is widely popular (WeChat Pay, Alipay…), as well as WeChat official accounts and QR code scanning.
- Economies of scale are possible with the huge population of China. Moreover, many users can be acquired with discounts or coupons (like with the Chinese equivalent of Uber, Didi, for example).
In addition, demographic and societal changes lead to an aging society, with a shortage of workers in the long term. The young Chinese are also more and more skilled and will eventually be more demanding in terms of job opportunities, thus, they could be unwilling to accept low-skilled manual work, like store staff.
It will be very exciting to keep up with the start-up BingoBox in the next years, since we can assume many of their stores will pop up in China in 2017. The development could be even quicker if the other major players, like Lawson or FamilyMart, jump into the race.
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