Robert Ilijason came up with the idea of opening up Sweden’s first unstaffed convenience store while scrambling one late-night for purchasing baby food while attending to a toddler in the backseat who kept screaming.
Ilijason was home along with his son and upon realizing that he had run out of baby food, had to drive 20 minutes from the small town of Viken in southern Sweden for finding a supermarket that was open at that time. Quite a nightmare, right?
The 39 years old IT specialist is now running a 24-hour shop that has no cashier. Customers make use of their smartphones for unlocking the door with the swipe of a finger and are required to scan their purchases. How does this work? You register for the service and subsequently download an app. You will be charged for the purchases via a monthly invoice.
The shop features the basics such as bread, milk, canned food, sugar, diapers and other items you can find in other convenience stores as well. It doesn’t feature any medical drugs or tobacco. Ilijason said, “My ambition is to spread this idea to other villages and small towns. It is incredible that no one has thought of his before.”
He gets the deliveries at the shop and stacks the items on shelves. Once he has done that, he lets the customers do the rest. A total of 6 surveillance cameras have been installed to prevent shoplifting in the 45 square meter store. He is also alerted via text message if the front door is being tampered with or remains open for longer than 8 seconds. He jokingly says, “I live nearby and can always run down here with a crowbar.”
The true challenge is to get the elderly used to the idea of this technology in a convenience store. Viken has a population of about 4,200 people. Tuve Nilsson, aged 75, welcomed the new store and said, “But if they can manage this (technology), I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t understand it.”
Ilijason is also considering to have a single person at the store for a couple of hours a day to help out customers who are not tech savvy. Raymond Arvidsson who is a friend of Ilijason said, “No queues. Quick in, quick out. I like.”