Membership gets you 24/7 access at new grocery store
A new grocery store in Minnesota is only staffed and open a few days each week for the general public, but members can visit any time — day or night.
Main Street Market charges $75 per year for membership, according to Park Rapids Enterprise. Once signed up, members download a smartphone app which they can use to shop in-store during unstaffed hours. They can gain entry to the store any time with either a key fob or via a Bluetooth connection. Each customer is identified via a unique access code, which the store owner can revoke access at any time via smartphone.
Main Street Market is a full grocery store with an organic/co-op style offering. Members shopping during unattended hours can make purchases either by scanning with the app or using the self-checkout at the front of the store.
Automated grocery and convenience stores, popular for some time in parts of Asia, have grown more common in the U.S. in the past few years. In the wake of the announcement of the fully automated Amazon Go in 2018, tech startups and grocers rushed to find new ways to speed checkout and reduce the transaction friction that has long made grocery shopping a chore for customers.
Some startups and retailers have attempted their own takes on Just Walk Out technology, which manages shelf inventory through computer vision and sensors and requires no scanning from the customer. Others have launched solutions like scan-and-go, which requires customers to scan product barcodes but circumvents a traditional checkout line. Some have opened unattended stores which require the scanning of products and then scanning a generated QR code to check out.
Anecdotes from some startups in the space indicate that the novel coronavirus pandemic may have increased retailer interest in Just Walk Out and similar technologies, Bloomberg reports. The sudden need to speed transactions and minimize human contact seems to have been an inspiration for businesses considering adoption of the technology.
Recently, airport retailer Hudson has begun rolling out its Just Walk Out-enabled Hudson Nonstop concept, opening its biggest Nonstop location in Chicago’s Midway Airport this month.
- New Douglas County grocery store offers 24-hour access as a solution to a small-town need – Park Rapids Enterprise
- Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop? – RetailWire
- Amazon Go Rival Bets Pandemic Made Case for Cashierless Stores – Bloomberg
- Hudson Nonstop Arrives In Chicago Using Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology – Business Wire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you make of Main Street Market’s hybrid staffed/unattended model and do you see other retailers implementing something similar? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this model?