Coming To A High Street Near You – Unmanned Grocery Stores: Analysis
On 30 December, online retailer JD.com unveiled its first unmanned convenience store, in Yantai, Shandong Province, which enables consumers to walk in, pick up items, and pay for them using their smartphones, with no need for queuing at the checkout.
While other online giants, such as Alibaba and Amazon, have also launched unmanned stores in recent years, albeit in beta mode – Amazon's Amazon Go concept in Seattle is arguably the best documented – JD's effort is the first such outlet to be made available to the general public – quite a coup for the Beijing-headquartered company – and it's only getting started.
In December, JD.com, alongside real-estate developer China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd (COLI), announced plans to open as many as 'hundreds' of unmanned stores and, notably, develop off-the-shelf 'unmanned store' technology that could be licensed to third-party retailers, putting the cat amongst the pigeons, as far as Amazon is concerned.
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