Deep Dive 12 minutes Premium

Unstaffed Stores: The Future Retail Format?

Executive Summary

We look at the development of unstaffed stores, including checkout-free stores, to understand their potential and limitations as the format of the future.

  • The technologies used in unstaffed stores affect the extent to which a shopping experience can be seamless. Al-powered cameras and sensors come with higher development costs but offer a more convenient shopping experience compared to the use of radio-frequency identification technology.
  • The Japanese government is attempting to relieve the labor shortage problem by inviting five convenience store chains in the country to automate their stores nationwide by 2025 using RFID technology.
  • China is a pioneer in the field of unstaffed stores. However, we have seen frequent store closures after relentless expansion, which reveal the challenges that unstaffed stores face surrounding operating costs, customer experience and range of product offerings.

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