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7-Eleven introduced their first convenience store without any staff at Lotte World Tower in Seoul yesterday.
The new 7-Eleven store utilises the 'HandPay' system to recognise individuals by the veins on the palm of their hands. Payments are linked to the Lotte Card, with Lotte and 7-Eleven partners in South Korea. No cash, card nor phone is required at the store and this will maximise convenience. The company are already considering further improvements so that payments are not limited to Lotte Card. The smart c-store will be officially launched to customers by August.
When customers place their purchases at the unmanned counter, items are scanned 360 degrees and prices and a total will be displayed on the screen. The store also features other technologies such as electronic price tags and refrigerators with sensors that open and close their doors automatically.
Korea Seven's president, Jung Seung-in said, “7-Eleven Signature, as a premium smart convenience store with a cutting-edge IT system suitable for the fourth industrial revolution, will be remembered as an innovative icon in Korea’s distribution industry.”
Maximising technological advancements has been a common strategy for many retailers. Amazon announced their checkout-free experience last year, using "Just Walk Out" technology for their 'Amazon Go' c-store. In Sweden, Näraffär are also testing an unmanned store through a smartphone ID application. In Japan, semi-automated c-stores are being implemented across several leading retailers. With this in mind, we expect other retailers to come-up with their own smart store of the future.