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Smartphones bring shopping convenience to Sweden


04-07-2016 11:36 BJT

Imagine walking into a grocery store in the middle of the night. There's no sales assistant in sight. You just pick up your food and walk right out. Well -- thanks to smartphone technology -- that's exactly how Sweden's first 24/7, self-service shop is breaking the mold.

Need some milk at 3 am. You've come to the right place. Left your wallet at home. Not a problem. All you need to shop at Sweden's first unmanned grocery store is your smartphone.

"So once you've opened the door, the app automatically turns into scan mode and you can buy whatever you want to buy. So for instance, if I take this can of cat food, just find the EonCode, I scan it and now I have it here in my app and I can confirm that I want to pay, I confirm that I bought this and then finalize and now it's done and I'm ready to leave," Store owner Robert Ilijason said.

Technician Robert Ilijason had the idea to open Naraffar after dropping his baby's last remaining jar of food - forcing him to drive more than 20 minutes to the nearest city to buy more.

"And then I decided that we need a store here in the village that is always open. And of course having personnel 24/7 is too expensive, so I used technology to solve that problem," Ilijason said.

To gain membership -- potential customers need to pass a credit check. Then picking up those last-minute essentials is just a matter of a few scans and swipes on the app -- and an invoice is sent at the end of the month. Shoppers love the convenience and the prices, which are a far cry from those usually found at small rural stores.

"You have the normal price here of a normal super store. So I think that's the best thing," Customer Jesper Nilsson said.

"It's very convenient. It's open 24/7 so you're able to get necessary products that you probably forgot in the store or that you feel like having late at night or early in the morning before the other grocery stores have opened," Customer Marit Kielland Bjerke said.

There are security cameras -- but the system does rely on trust. The shop stocks dairy products along with dry and frozen food. But Ilijason hopes to eventually let demand dictate what he stocks. He also plans to expand.

"The next step is to open a few more stores to make sure this concept works in scale and then we'll see. Maybe we'll scale up to all of Sweden and maybe even outside of Sweden. We'll see," Ilijason said.

With many shoppers around the world likely to buy into such a convenient service -- an unmanned grocery store may soon be coming to a street near you.

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