The self-service market is projected to be worth $13 billion by 2023, and food merchants are angling to secure a bigger foothold in the space. Realizing that it’s not just what they sell, but also when and how they sell it, farmers and butchers are turning to vending machines to avoid the costs of selling in supermarkets, and to even capture sales after store-closing time.
This month’s Unattended Retail Tracker™ charts the latest efforts to bring automation to food shopping, ranging from vending machines to cashier-free stores.
More companies are looking beyond the traditional vending machine model and trialing new forms of unattended retail.
Amazon Go may be one of the most visible examples. The retailer made headlines in 2016 when it opened a store that uses computer visioning, sensors and a smartphone app to enable cashier-free, grab-and-go shopping. Now, the company is making waves with its reported plans to move beyond its handful of Amazon Go stores and roll out 3,000 more locations over the next few years.
Amazon, of course, isn’t the only player offering grab-and-go style, checkout-free shopping. In a recent interview with PYMNTS, ShelfX CEO Ran Margalit explained the company’s cashier-free approach, which includes installing weight sensors on the shelves of retailers’ refrigerators to determine which items customers remove or return.
For other food and beverage companies, however, automation is about more than just charging customers for payments. It’s also about the product’s creation process.
Cafe X, for instance, relies on a robot barista to bring consistency to the process of making coffee drinks. Consumers can order ahead with a mobile app or use a kiosk to purchase drinks from the bots.
Keeping smartphone-wielding consumers happily ordering coffee and swiping into cashier-free stores means keeping their mobile devices well-charged. Yet, all too often, when mobile phones run out of juice, consumers have to camp out by a wall outlet or seal their phone away in a lockbox charging station.
However, Co-founder and COO Jason Palmer of MobileQubes, a Redbox-inspired unattended retail model, wants to keep those consumers on the go with rented battery packs, so they aren’t tethered to stationary charging locations. In this month’s feature story, Palmer explains how MobileQubes designed an automated battery-pack rental for mobile devices — and how it ensures that consumers who walk off with battery packs actually return them.
To check out the full story, download the Tracker™.
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About The Tracker™
The Unattended Retail Tracker™ serves as a bimonthly framework for the space, providing coverage of the most recent news and trends, as well as a directory that highlights the key players contributing to the segments that comprise the expansive unattended retail ecosystem.