As we have seen the emergence of Amazon’s grocery play (Amazon Go) start to materialize, the notion of unmanned retail experiences seems to be building steam. As small startup known as Wheelys is looking to build on a number of successful retail experiences by bringing and completely unmanned retail concept to life in Shanghai.
Named Wheelys 247, the small retail outlets will begin selling common goods (cigarettes, chips and chocolates) around the lock using a mobile application and cloud based payment solution. Customers simply scan, pay and go. Fraud is managed by having to use the mobile app to enter the facility, plus a couple of cameras here and there. Still it’s a quick, painless and innovative way to grab things on the go. They will be making the technology widely available and they are a platform play, not a retail chain or franchise company.
What’s break through here is that they (and their technology) essentially helps anyone become a store owner, without having to actually manage a store. Yes an occasional stocking of items will be necessary, but even that too could be outsourced. Imagine a world where popular brands (e.g. beverage companies) open outlets to help sell product through a true branded retail experience. Could be right around the corner at a mall near you.