There's Smartphone-Powered Shop in Sweden With No Human Cashiers

By Gizmodo on at

We all know robots are coming for our jobs, but smartphones could soon be carrying the career-slaying torch as well. A small shop in Sweden only has one employee — the smartphone in your pocket — and it’s always working, 24-7.

According to the Associated Press, a small store in Viken, Sweden uses smartphones for everything, from unlocking the front door to individually purchasing every item by scanning the barcode. Shopping and IT specialist Robert Ilijason (a human... for now) created a smartphone app that does everything. After a month of frequenting this scan-it-your-self shop, you’ll pay your bill.

This “app store” is the result of a country that’s quickly embraced mobile payments. One Swedish payments service alone, WyWallet, had 1.2 million users in 2014, about 20 per cent of the smartphone using population, according to The New York Times.

Ilijason says the unconventional convenience is a way to bring small shops back to many communities in Sweden that have been swallowed up by supermarkets and big chain stores. He hopes his first pilot will spread out across the country.

Of course, running a store does need some human involvement. Ilijason does do the initial work of stocking the store, but after that he lets the smartphone do the rest. Of course, an unmanned convenience store has a few simple problems, mainly protecting against shoplifting. But as AP reports, he’s got that under control, too:

He has installed six surveillance cameras to discourage shoplifting in the 480-square-foot (45-square-meter) store. Also, he is alerted by a text message if the front door stays open for longer than eight seconds or if someone tries to break it open.

The Swede also told the AP, “I live nearby and can always run down here with a crowbar”.

The biggest hurdle may still be the technical divide as many older patrons don’t know how to use the app. Ilijason is considering a few different possibilities to alleviate that tech burden, but for now says customers love the idea.

And the best part about it? No queues. [AP]


Image: Jan Olsen/AP Photo