Unmanned convenience stores

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Unmanned convenience stores

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-06-17 11:50am

In the vein of automation


They still have a human monitoring the store to some extent. The advantage of monitoring from a distance is

a. safety for the human
b. one person could theoretically monitor several stores, thus saving costs

Is this the future?
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Gandalf » 2017-06-17 12:20pm

Fascinating stuff. I could see it being put behind the gates of large apartment complexes in unsafe areas, so one doesn't have to risk being mugged when getting late night milk. Having lived in such a setup, that's something potentially quite positive.

I wonder if its mobile function could be combined with driverless taxi technology to design a moving convenience store, like an ice cream truck but with Pringles?
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Darth Tanner » 2017-06-17 12:24pm

I'd be super impressed if the scanner that takes a picture to identify items in your hands works reliably! It seems a very easy thing if it prevents you leaving that people are going to panic because it refused to identify that bag of sweets in your hand, the scope for thievery is massive too, guessing this would only go for affluent or gated areas?

The biggest saving appears to be its mobile so probably pays less in rates and building costs. Although an early step I don't see how the saved labour of not having a shop assistant there is worth the hassle of things constantly being out of stock until you can send someone in and all the extra maintenance and technology costs. I'd have though a large vending machine style interface would make far more sense.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Broomstick » 2017-06-17 12:31pm

Yes, for better or worse, I think this is the future for at least some retail applications.

Scanners can be remarkably efficient - the security cameras above the checkouts in my store have robust item recognition and you would still have a human monitoring things. Presumably, if there was some problem you could speak with said monitor, hold things up to the camera for identification, and so forth.

However, I dispute the "20 minutes a day" maintenance claim. I work retail. There is a subset of customers that have the personal hygiene and coordination of a spastic raccoon. It's not just restocking empty pegs, you have to clean up messes and sort out things put in the wrong place.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Gandalf » 2017-06-17 01:20pm

The structure of this is fascinating, and has some interesting implications. I wonder if one of these (as in, an automated shop not owned by Bingobox) could be community owned, where after any fees, the excess is returned to the community.

Broomstick wrote:However, I dispute the "20 minutes a day" maintenance claim. I work retail. There is a subset of customers that have the personal hygiene and coordination of a spastic raccoon. It's not just restocking empty pegs, you have to clean up messes and sort out things put in the wrong place.


Given that they've got about fifteen square metres of footprint to a store, two or so people with clearly delineated tasks should be able to make it clean in that time provided nobody shat on the floor or anything. I used to do thirty square metres on my own in about forty minutes, so it doesn't seem so unreasonable that even one (more energetic) person could do it.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Raw Shark » 2017-06-17 07:35pm

I used to night manage a c-store. My girlfriend at the time would show up and fuck me in the bathroom occasionally. We'd put up the "be back in five minutes" signs.

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-06-17 08:20pm

Wonderful. What harm could their possibly be in eliminating an entire sector of low-income jobs, at a time when their are already issues with unemployment?

Again: Basic Income, or a revolution a decade or two down the road. Those are very likely our only choices, unless we suddenly decide to ban companies automating jobs away.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Broomstick » 2017-06-17 11:11pm

Gandalf wrote:Given that they've got about fifteen square metres of footprint to a store, two or so people with clearly delineated tasks should be able to make it clean in that time provided nobody shat on the floor or anything. I used to do thirty square metres on my own in about forty minutes, so it doesn't seem so unreasonable that even one (more energetic) person could do it.

The problem is people DO shit on the floor - or at least, they have shit in the men's dressing room at work. And pissed on seats (admittedly, at least one instance was an extremely frail old man, so maybe he couldn't help it). Bled on the floor. Smashed things.

That's why I said I doubt it will be [i]just]/i] 20 minutes. Maybe on a good day, maybe you'll have a lot of good days, but there will also be bad days.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Ralin » 2017-06-18 04:36am

Broomstick wrote:However, I dispute the "20 minutes a day" maintenance claim. I work retail. There is a subset of customers that have the personal hygiene and coordination of a spastic raccoon. It's not just restocking empty pegs, you have to clean up messes and sort out things put in the wrong place.


You're probably right to call bullshit on that. I suspect the relatively cheap cost of labor in China would be a factor in making this viable. Assuming the places are monitored constantly and there are multiple branches in a given city it's probably at least possible to have one guy in charge of running/driving/riding between locations in a given area restocking and cleaning as necessary.

I would not envy that guy.

Still pretty skeptical though.

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Zaune » 2017-06-18 12:52pm

The other possibility is they're not actually going to clean the place every day, but have someone give it a thorough going over once a week. Barring incidents like a tramp using it as a urinal, that might be enough.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Ralin » 2017-06-19 03:04am

Zaune wrote:The other possibility is they're not actually going to clean the place every day, but have someone give it a thorough going over once a week. Barring incidents like a tramp using it as a urinal, that might be enough.


Tramps will use it as an urinal. They'll be lucky if someone only takes a crap on the floor once a week.

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Jub » 2017-06-19 03:58am

Why even let people inside if it's already automated, why not set it up like a large vending machine instead? Just have a nice large picture showing all your products, let people send in their order either via touchpad or cell phone app, and then send out the purchases along with something to carry them in. It saves on what you have to clean, fits in a smaller footprint, and uses off the shelf parts for a lot of the mechanical parts.

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Darth Tanner » 2017-06-19 05:23am

I'm guessing they are not going to let a tramp in if you need an app and presumably registration to be let in... right up till someone props the door open and loots it.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Gandalf » 2017-06-19 06:15am

Darth Tanner wrote:I'm guessing they are not going to let a tramp in if you need an app and presumably registration to be let in... right up till someone props the door open and loots it.


Shouldn't such a thing alert the authorities pretty quickly?
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Darth Tanner » 2017-06-19 06:24am

Yes but it relies on the person watching the CV being awake and then getting in touch with the police. Not a problem in a city centre location but kind of limiting for anywhere else.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Ralin » 2017-06-19 08:16am

Jub wrote:Why even let people inside if it's already automated, why not set it up like a large vending machine instead? Just have a nice large picture showing all your products, let people send in their order either via touchpad or cell phone app, and then send out the purchases along with something to carry them in. It saves on what you have to clean, fits in a smaller footprint, and uses off the shelf parts for a lot of the mechanical parts.


Because then it's a vending machine instead of a super sleek and modern automated convenience store.

If something like this is successful then the cool factor is going to be a big part in why people use it instead of any of the dozen other regular convenience stores they probably could be using. Vending machines aren't hip.

Also you can't inspect the stuff you buy as easily without one and it's more of a pain when one screws up, but that's a secondary concern.

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Jub » 2017-06-19 09:07am

Ralin wrote:Because then it's a vending machine instead of a super sleek and modern automated convenience store.

If something like this is successful then the cool factor is going to be a big part in why people use it instead of any of the dozen other regular convenience stores they probably could be using. Vending machines aren't hip.

Also you can't inspect the stuff you buy as easily without one and it's more of a pain when one screws up, but that's a secondary concern.


People already order food online to avoid having to speak to an actual person and while an unmanned store offers that, I think some people would still prefer not even having the pretension of something built as if a person would operate it. You punch your list into your phone as you walk over, scan the QR code your app created at the machine, tap your card against the reader, and walk away with your chips and energy drinks, or condoms and pop tarts, or whatever else you went out for. At worst you've had to pass a homeless man sitting near the machine asking for change and grunt at a few other people who might have arrived ahead of you.

You might not see the appeal, but imagine something you could do with near zero social interaction in a place like Tokyo? Plus, Japan already has vending machines for nearly everything else, so why not try enlarging one to the size of a small store?

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Raw Shark » 2017-06-19 09:25am

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Broomstick » 2017-06-19 11:35am

Jub wrote:You punch your list into your phone as you walk over, scan the QR code your app created at the machine, tap your card against the reader, and walk away with your chips and energy drinks, or condoms and pop tarts, or whatever else you went out for.

Yeah, that's just gonna suck for the millions of people who don't own smartphones. You do realize that there are millions of people in the first world who don't yet own smartphones, correct?

That's why there is still business for brick-and-mortar and things that don't require an app to operate.

The Bingobox accommodates those people, just like it accommodates those with smartphones.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Darth Tanner » 2017-06-19 12:31pm

Broomstick wrote:The Bingobox accommodates those people, just like it accommodates those with smartphones.


Actually it doesnt, from the promo video if you don't have a smart phone your not even entering the store, its needed for payment too.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Broomstick » 2017-06-19 12:45pm

Well... that sucks for about 90 million just here in the US (about 33% of Americans still do not own smartphones).
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Darth Tanner » 2017-06-19 12:51pm

I guess they can't allow cash to be stored even in an automatic dispenser... plus smart phone #cool. I know this will appeal to some I just don't see the appel.

If they can actually get the system working so that you just show a bunch of items to a camera and it knows what they are then that would be of great value to existing automatic tills but I still think they are going to have endless problems there.
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-06-19 02:01pm

This kind of system works great in a society where people habitually comply with rules and directions. It's going to start working less and less well as people become more inclined to cheat- to choose "defect" in the Prisoner's Dilemma.

The problem is, the more people you put out of work with systems like this, the more 'defectors' your society contains...
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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Jub » 2017-06-19 04:23pm

Broomstick wrote:Yeah, that's just gonna suck for the millions of people who don't own smartphones. You do realize that there are millions of people in the first world who don't yet own smartphones, correct?

That's why there is still business for brick-and-mortar and things that don't require an app to operate.

The Bingobox accommodates those people, just like it accommodates those with smartphones.


Isn't that kind of like saying that Netflix sucks for the millions of Americans who still don't have broadband Internet? Or that car related stuff sucks for the millions of Americans that don't own a car? It's not for those people.

Also, if you read both of my posts in this thread you'd see that my proposal also included a touch pad and allows you to pay with a credit/debit card. Actually, I'm half surprised you didn't also go off about tapping cards for payment when I know the US still can't get its shit together with regards to chip and pin cards. I don't even want to know how trying to roll out intetac flash is going to work...

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Re: Unmanned convenience stores

Postby Broomstick » 2017-06-19 04:34pm

Jub wrote:Isn't that kind of like saying that Netflix sucks for the millions of Americans who still don't have broadband Internet?

Nope, because Netflix still offers a DVD-by-mail service. In fact, last I checked there is still a greater array of choices for their by-mail service than for their broadband.

Actually, I'm half surprised you didn't also go off about tapping cards for payment when I know the US still can't get its shit together with regards to chip and pin cards. I don't even want to know how trying to roll out intetac flash is going to work...

We have tap-and-pay here. It's not real common, but I see it a couple times a day at work.

I agree though that the US has its head up its ass in regards to chip and pin.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

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