Beijing is the latest Chinese city to open a staffless convenience store as the country looks to leapfrog its way into a service economy.
With no cash register on its premises, all purchases made at the Xiaomai convenience store in Beijing's Haidian District are done with electronic payment systems like Alipay or WePay.
And although the store employs one staff member responisible for restocking its shelves with new products, the 24-hour convenience store is designed to be a self-serve operation free of any human contact.
Located in the YOU+ international youth community center located near Suzhouqiao neighborhood, the staffless store isn't just dependent on electronic payment, but takes the concept of the digital avatar to an entirely new level.
In order to gain access to the store, users must register their social media profile and a scan of their face with the store's computer system; only upon verification will a person be allowed to enter.
After entering, the store reminds you that it knows who you are by prominently displaying your social media profile name and avatar upon a store screen.
To make purchases, the customer uses their own phone to scan QR codes of the products they want to purchase, each displayed on the shelf below it. After gathering all of their purchases, users will pay for their purchases using a mobile wallet payment system like Alipay or WeChat.
To keep tabs on customers, the 20-square-meter store is equipped with six surveillance cameras. And, in a twist, customers are not allowed to take photographs in the store, although one guy certainly did.
Xiaomai also has stores in the Beijing suburbs of Shunyi, Changping, Tongzhou, Daxing, and Fangshan.
Beijing joins an already long list of cities that have opened completely automated convenience stores this year alone. AuChan opened its tiny Bingo Box convenience store in Shanghai, Alibaba teamed up with Amazon Go to open Tao Coffee in Hangzhou, while Guangzhou saw the opening of the staffless F5 Future convenience store.
For many people, "convenience" is using the Internet to buy things without having to walk to a store, so there must be a good reason for have customers serve themselves. And this is it:
At any time of day, a Suzhouqiao resident can now walk down to their neighborhood convenience store to buy instant noodles at a slightly inflated price without ever needing to speak or interact with anyone. Yes, ours is an enlightened society in which a service economy allows us to be free of any human contact.
Convenience has arrived at last for Beijing customers, for we should expect nothing less when regarding the products we buy that are specifically-designed to make our lives easier. And considering all the trans fats found in convenience store bakeries, we imagine future developments will bring us "self-serve medical treatment kiosks" to balance out our needs.
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Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog