7-Eleven is launching first fully-automated stores 7-Eleven Express in South Korea.
Currently under trial, four vending machine-style convenience stores are being operated: two at the headquarters of 7-Eleven in downtown Seoul, one at Lotte E&M in Incheon, and one at the headquarters of Lotte Rent-a-Car in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province.
The store is designed as a 10-metre long express train, and consists of five vending machines with 200 products, which are divided into five categories for which there is high consumer demand: drinks, snacks, prepared meals, processed food and non-food products.
Consumers can make a purchase by inputting the product number into the machine or selecting items from the central kiosk, and pay via a prepaid transit card or credit card, not cash.
The stores feature a microwave oven and a hot water dispenser in the central area.
7-Eleven is taking steps to commercialise the vending machine-style convenience stores, and will accept franchise applications from its current franchisees, as a “second store”.
“This model is designed to maximise the profit of our current franchise owners,” 7-Eleven explained.
Self-service convenience stores are being tested in several markets around the world.
South Korean 7-Eleven also tested its “c-store of the future” with hand-payment at Lotte World Tower while the Taiwanese branch opened second unstaffed X-Store.
Yen Hai Nguyen – Inside Retail Asia