Czech Coop opens unmanned store in Strakonice

To shop outside of standard opening hours customers need to install an application on their devices

Czech retail chain Coop has opened a new concept store in Strakonice city centre, where customers can shop 24/7.

To shop outside of standard opening hours customers, need to install an app on their devices, which after the first log-in via their bank identity will generate a unique QR code each time they visit the store, enabling them to enter. Payment is made by card through self-service cash registers.

“We want these stores to be for everyone” said Lukáš Němčík, development and marketing director, who opened the store. “Of course, within the standard opening hours, the store will continue to be staffed, but outside this time it will operate in automatic mode.”

Coop, which plans a second store of this format in Český Krumlov in the coming months, was inspired by Scandinavian co-ops, which operate similar format stores.

“We think that the concept of automated stores has the greatest potential in small and medium-sized cities due to the changing structure of customers, most of whom require the most flexible services,” said Mr Němčík.

“In addition, in these localities, for example, only large shops on the outskirts, which are often only accessible by car, are often open in the early evening or on weekends. For fast shopping, a constantly open automatic store within walking distance is an ideal solution.”

These types of stores are particularly suitable for customers wishing to make small purchases.

“We also consider our focus on regional food to be important. For example, we sell bread from local bakeries or cold cuts from local butchers. It does not make sense for this type of goods to be difficult to travel around the country, as is the case with multinational chains,” added Mr Němčík.

“Every visitor to the store will be uniquely identified thanks to this system, so it is not a problem, for example, if they buy more than one customer at a time,” said Pavel Kozler from Knowinstore, the firm which developed the technology used in the store. “The customer will be able to leave the store with the purchase only after verification of payment.”

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