A French startup is working to create a chain of fully autonomous convenience stores in shipping containers
Spotted: First there was Amazon, then there was automated checkout, now there are mobile, automated stores. As physical retail struggles to remain relevant—and profitable—in the face of growing online competition, retailers are finding new niches. These include rural areas and urban neighbourhoods that lack good shopping options. This is the niche that French startup Storelift hopes to occupy with its Boxy stores.
Boxy stores are unstaffed, fully autonomous, and built out of repurposed shipping containers that can be easily placed anywhere that is lacking in good shopping options. Customers download the Boxy app and scan a QR code to enter the store. Any time a customer picks up a product, it is identified using computer vision and weight sensors on the shelves. When the customer leaves, they scan their QR code again and checkout happens automatically.
The use of AI algorithms also allows Boxy to offer discounts or special offers based on customer behaviour, for example, if a customer picks up a product and then puts it back. Because Storelift does not use facial recognition, privacy is maintained and any data collected is not associated with a specific customer.
Storelift CEO and co-founder Tom Hayat explains that, “We know the products you touch and if it’s too expensive,” Hayat said. “From that, we can optimise replenishment, assortment, and promotion campaigns in one click. We have the granularity of ecommerce data so we can improve the offer every day. We know which products are working and which ones are not.”
As the concept of autonomous shopping takes off, Storelift is not the only company with the idea of using tech to bring shopping options to underserved areas. At Springwise we have spotted autonomous stores serving rural communities, and a new platform that enables almost any store to convert to self-checkout.
Written By: Lisa Magloff