David BECK analyzes technological issues from a political, economic and management perspective.

How Data Will Power Convenience Autonomous Stores

David BECK Academic - Society, Politics & Techology

Autonomous Dutch convenience store retailer Wundermart is expanding its operations, with plans to open more than 10,000 checkout-free stores in a partnership with contactless checkout.

Wundermart customers will be able to enter a location, make a purchase and exit without ever needing to scan individual items, while the store will collect the data needed to make the experience – and even the store’s operations – truly autonomous.

Wundermart’s current operations, which are focused on providing shopping opportunities at hotels and offices, let customers grab their desired items, scan each item and pay for them at a self-checkout kiosk. The company’s software also tracks store performance to help these locations, which often have little backroom space, to efficiently manage inventory and ordering.

The addition of computer vision technology will let shoppers simply scan their payment method of choice at the kiosk, either before or after picking up their purchases, with no further interaction required. Interest in this friction-reducing technology was accelerated by COVID-19, and Wundermart expects the autonomous store models’ ability to let retailers create hyperlocal assortments will carry it into a post-pandemic the future.

“We believe physical retail will stay in the hearts of consumers, but to make it future-proof it should become smaller and more efficient, with select offerings at locations close to where target groups are,” said Laurens de Kleine, Co-Founder of Wundermart “You should be capable of easily opening up autonomous shops, and it needs to be cost-effective.”

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