Status of Smart Stores

Retailers are adopting smart technologies to meet changing consumer expectations for convenience and speed.

The development of smart shopping and autonomous stores worldwide has seen significant growth and innovation in recent years. Adoption of autonomous stores using technology for a checkout-free shopping experience is driven by advances in computer vision, AI, and consumer demand for more efficient and frictionless shopping experiences.

In 2021, adoption of autonomous stores began to increase, reflecting a broader trend toward digital transformation in retail. These stores, which carry huge investment costs, offer benefits such as improving store distribution and stock management, thanks to computer vision technology that tracks product interactions and customer behaviors. Unmanned stores can also operate 24/7 without the need for staff, significantly reducing labor costs and improving operational efficiency.

The global market for artificial intelligence in retail, underpinned by the autonomous store trend, is expected to grow from $7.14 billion in 2023 to $55.53 billion in 2030. Fortune Business Intelligence. By 2024, it is expected to have 10,000 stores, up from 350 in 2018 and around 7,250 in 2023. This exponential growth highlights the extent to which autonomous technologies are being adopted by customers as their expectations and customers change at a rapid pace.

Amazon Go Stores were pioneers in this space. Now fuel and convenience retailers around the world have made their point: 7-Eleven, Żabka, Carrefour, Kroger, Galp, Neste, ADNOC Distribution, Migrolino, Lekkerland, the list goes on. These players are testing the technology and exploring how to optimize the new customer journey.

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„Applied AI is present in the entire customer relationship process, from first contact to satisfaction measurement. Galp’s Service HUBs are on the way to becoming intelligent multi-service centers where customers can access integrated energy and personalized mobility solutions,” said Portuguese retailer Galp about the development of Smart Stores. says It is the first integrated energy company to open a fully autonomous store in Europe.

According to uA new study published in the Journal of Retailing, consumers prefer staffed stores to self-employed ones because of billing processes, limited access to staff assistance, and the inability to verify purchases before paying. Due to differences in consumer acceptance and perceived safety, community and rural locations are identified more favorably for autonomous stores compared to urban areas with high traffic.

Buyers need to be comfortable with the technology, understand how it works, and trust its reliability and security. Some stores provide basket details and costs at checkout; Others do so by email immediately after purchase. Users reported receiving their receipt hours after visiting the Amazon Go store, which negatively affected perceptions of security.

„As technology evolves, intrusion prevention processes will become more seamless and easier to use. When users understand that these measures improve security, protect privacy, or contribute to a personalized and secure experience, they may be willing to adopt and standardize these processes,” says Frictionless Technology. Ana Pinto, CEO of Portuguese provider Reckon.AI.

The initial cost of implementing smart store technology can be high, especially for small and medium-sized retailers. Investment in sensors, cameras, artificial intelligence systems and the necessary infrastructure can be substantial, creating a significant barrier to entry. Retailers can adopt different types of smart shopping depending on their budget: self-checkout, scan and ship or fully autonomous.

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An opportunity for electric charging points

Many charging points around the world still lack the facility. Unmanned stores can serve those customers without the problem of unused labor. By offering additional amenities and services such as restrooms, Wi-Fi, coffee, and food, charging station operators can entice customers to spend more time at their facilities, ultimately increasing revenue.

The REWE Group has recently launched a REWE Ready „Smart Store” at the EnBW Hypernetz electric vehicle (EV) charging center in Germany. The store is powered by Reckon.AI and offers around 200 items including coffee, cold drinks, fresh snacks and salads.

„Combining computer vision cameras with sensor fusion allows us to offer end consumers a unique, reliable and seamless way of shopping. Time to market and ease of implementation: Smart refrigerators are plug-and-play devices – play. Up and running in seconds,” said Smart in Lekkerland SE in a LinkedIn post. Store Development Director Mehmet Dotzge says.

Tesla is installing Tesla Supercharger Rooms at some of its stations, providing a comfortable environment for owners to spend time while charging their vehicles.

Another company trying to fill that need is a US-based corporate start-up created by Vontier in 2022. They want to bring micro-retail shops to electric vehicle charging centers. “EV operators have always known that they needed to address the issue of on-premise retail, but until now there was no immediate solution – JUXTA provides that solution,” said Om Shankar, co-founder of JUXTA.

The disruptive potential of autonomous stores for the retail industry, improving operational efficiency and enhancing the customer experience, represents an exciting frontier for innovation and investment in the sector. Technological obsolescence, customer adoption and high initial investment remain the biggest challenges.

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