Sweden Has a Completely Unmanned Convenience Store

By Mike Pomranz |

© Paul Walters Worldwide Photography Ltd./Heritage Images/Getty Images

If you’re the kind of person who thinks the least convenient part of a convenience store is having to make small talk with a cashier, Sweden has your perfect food shopping experience.

Robert Ilijason, an IT specialist who lives in the small town of Viken, Sweden, has opened what is being billed as the country’s first unmanned convenience store. Ilijason drops into his small shop to receive deliveries and stock shelves, but outside of those tasks, customers handle everything else via their smartphones. There’s no staff whatsoever.

Locals interested in taking advantage of this truly convenient 24-hour store simply need to register as a customer and download the app. From there, they can use their phone to unlock the front door and scan their own purchases, which are invoiced monthly. The shop stops short of calling itself a true grocery store, but everything you’d expect to find in something like a 7-Eleven is there: bread, milk, diapers, etc. – minus alcohol, tobacco and medical drugs, for obvious reasons.

To discourage theft, Ilijason installed six surveillance cameras and some pretty helpful text alerts if the front door stays open for more than eight seconds or if someone tries to open it by force. “I live nearby and can always run down here with a crowbar,” he told the AP with a laugh, something he hasn’t had to do yet despite how much fun as it sounds.

And though Ilijason’s store has only been open since January, he’s already dreaming of expansion, saying it’s great for places like Viken where the nearest store may be miles away. “My ambition is to spread this idea to other villages and small towns,” he said. “It is incredible that no one has thought of his before.”

Robert, I’m sure people have thought of it, we’re just not all Swedish IT geniuses like you.

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