All eyes in the west are on Amazon as they prepare their new brick and mortar store, Amazon Go. However, a new contender may be on the rise in Shanghai. And while the new Amazon store will have human employees preparing fresh food items as well as other simple tasks, this new concept, currently being named “Wheelys 247” is said to not require any human labor, save for the occasional shelf restocking.
Unmanned C-Stores Are Popping Up
Multiple industries are turning to ways to automate, everything from semi-truck driving and logistics to the food industry are looking for ways to cut labor and costs and boost efficiency. Automation is becoming increasingly commonplace, but is a truly unmanned convenience store even possible?
It’s already been done. A technician and entrepreneur in a small town in Sweden has already launched an unmanned c-store after accidentally breaking the last jar of baby food in the middle of the night. Now that’s it’s already been done, it seems the focus is less on if it’s feasible, but who can perfect it first.
Amazon is paving the way with Amazon Go, which figures to be more of a café concept than a true C-store. Wheelys is taking things a bit further and promising everything from chocolate to cigarettes, and even mushroom risotto! It will be interesting to see how that last one plays out.
What Does This Mean for C-Stores?
In the short-term, Wheelys likely offers no threat to C-stores here in the western hemisphere. However, as with Amazon Go, the technology is certainly on its way here. What’s more, it will only evolve as time goes on.
The first sign that the industry is changing is already happening. Mobile payments are set to become the dominant payment method within a few years, and as more stores turn to automation, this will only trend upward.
Wheelys was founded with the intention of offering a more convenient shopping method for customers. They also aim to lower the costs involved in opening a store. This may benefit the industry if the concept proves out. If the cost is lower to open a Wheelys 247 than the cost of opening a traditional C-store will need to respond accordingly.
Of course, if the concept proves to be a successful one, we can anticipate new automation innovation aimed at competing with Wheelys which should likewise benefit the industry as a whole as more traditional stores look to stay competitive.
Lastly, while they’re billed as an unmanned C-store, it’s important to note that Wheelys isn’t truly automated. They still require humans for inventory control and re-stocking purposes. Glad to see we’re still somewhat useful! Until shelf stocking robots come around, it looks as if the labor pool is safe for now.
It’s Time to Step Into the Future
While robots that stock your shelves may still be a ways off, it’s clear that automation and similar technologies are coming to the industry. For the holdouts, it may be time to step into the future and start reaping the benefits, or risk falling behind.
For example, if you’re still relying on outdated inventory control methods, there is a better way. CStorePro’s inventory management system allows you to view your inventory, update prices, and more from the comfort of your laptop with our cloud-based system, or on your Android or iPhone mobile devices. That means say goodbye to a pencils, clipboards, and crammed file cabinets!
The future may be in automation, but for right now it’s in the cloud. Keeping your inventory, price book, fuel, and lottery sales in one secure and easy to manage location is the first step towards a more efficient future for your business. Plus, the convenience of accessing and updating your system from anywhere means you’re never too far from your business.
With multi-store management, daily reports, and other great features, It’s time to start taking your business into the future, today.