GDR NRF Newsletter November 2018

Autonomous convenience store drives to its customers


Moby is a solar-powered, autonomous convenience store being trialled in Shanghai, China. The structure, which is on wheels, resembles a pop-up shop with glass panels in the place of walls. Using an app, customers can check the location of a Moby or summon the store to their location, which proposes a radically new format for on-demand delivery and convenience.

A holographic sales assistant, Hol, greets customers and can help place orders for products not currently in stock. Purchasing from the Moby store is similar to the Amazon Go experience: All purchases are tallied and completed via the app. If customers do not want to visit the store, they can order via the app and their goods will be delivered by one of four on-board drones.

The store is open 24 hours and has proprietary machine learning baked in so it can keep inventory up to date based on what has been purchased. If stock runs out, it will drive itself to the warehouse to replenish its cargo.

The Moby Store is an adaptable space and functions as a convenience store, a mini pharmacy, a coffee shop and ATM. It also has first aid equipment on-board, including defibrillators for emergencies.

Hershey’s supermarket-of-the-future concept imagines the changing role of physical stores

The Oasis of Freshness

U.S. chocolate manufacturer Hershey has created a supermarket-of-the-future concept to inspire its retail partners about how they could work with the brand in the future.

The company’s innovation team, The Hershey Lab, has created a fictitious grocery chain called Medley based around demonstration areas and conversations with expert staff. The open-plan space has a curated selection of products on display. The idea is that customers will visit the store and be inspired by their conversations with staff about meat, vegetables, wine and cocktails. As they move around the space, digital integrations allow customers to add items and check out using the Medley shopping app; purchases — fulfilled from a behind-the-scenes warehouse — can either be delivered to their car or home.

Hershey has also created several different store concepts for specific types of location. For example, targeting “food deserts” in the U.S. (remote communities where access to fresh produce is very rare) it has created the Oasis of Freshness concept. This a small-footprint, mobile unit brings produce from local farmers to these communities. Digital elements enable endless aisle ordering.

While these ideas from Hershey are very conceptual, it is very interesting to see a brand without its own physical locations trying to unpack the role that stores will play in peoples’ lives in the future. It will be fascinating to see how Hershey’s partner retailers are inspired by this.

Delivery startup launches autonomous mobile snack kiosk


The Mio mobile kiosk is a new product from an eponymous startup in Berlin.

Almost totally autonomous, it can be summoned via mobile app and will bring its products to wherever the user is. Customers can select items on a touchscreen, pay via contactless payments and retrieve their items from a chute on the front of the robot.

The mobile kiosk is currently being positioned as a solution for both sales and marketing. As a sales vehicle, the kiosk presents a revenue stream for both the venue (whether an airport, shopping centre or any other enclosed, flat space), the brands being sold and, of course, Mio itself.

The company also is in talks with brands about its use in marketing at branded events where clients can exploit the robot’s wow factor and engage with customers in a completely novel way.

According to founder and CEO Roman Drokov, the concept evolved as a response to what he perceives as a dislike of drone technology among the public and governments. Instead, a grounded delivery robot was thought to be far more likely to be accepted by consumers.

Product trials appear to confirm this: Mio’s data shows 50 percent of people approach and engage with the robot when they see it, and 90 percent reported they understood the robot’s purpose despite the absence of anything similar on the market.

Most importantly, the company reports the robot outperforms static vending machines in sales per hour by a ratio of 4:1.

Self-driving supermarket vehicle offers on-demand grocery shopping


Robotics start-up Robomart has created a self-driving vehicle of the same name that brings grocery shopping straight to customers’ homes.

Customers can request the Robomart by pressing a button on a smartphone app. When it arrives, customers shop the items they want while the device uses “grab and go” technology to track their purchases, charging them and sending them a receipt when they are done.

Robomarts are currently being tested on-campus at the manufacturer’s facility. A commercial pilot programme is expected to run before the end of 2018.

If it is successful, supermarkets will be able to lease the Robomart.

One clear advantage for customers compared with traditional ecommerce grocery shopping is that they can handpick their own produce.