Sweden opens first unmanned convenience store

VIKEN, Sweden -- It was a chaotic, late-night scramble to buy baby food with a screaming toddler in the backseat that gave Robert Ilijason the idea to open Sweden's first unmanned convenience store.

See Full Article

Home alone with his hungry son, Ilijason had dropped the last baby food jar on the floor, and had to drive 20 minutes from the small town of Viken in southern Sweden to find a supermarket that was open.

Now the 39-year-old IT specialist runs a 24-hour shop with no cashier.

Customers simply use their cellphones to unlock the door with a swipe of the finger and scan their purchases. All they need to do is to register for the service and download an app. They get charged for their purchases in a monthly invoice.

The shop has basics like milk, bread, sugar, canned food, diapers and other products that you expect to find in a small convenience store. It doesn't have tobacco or medical drugs because of the risk of theft. Alcohol cannot be sold in convenience stores in Sweden.

"My ambition is to spread this idea to other villages and small towns," said Ilijason. "It is incredible that no one has thought of his before."

He hopes the savings of having no staff will help bring back small stores to the countryside. In recent decades, such stores have been replaced by bigger supermarkets often many kilometers away.

Ilijason receives deliveries at the shop and stacks products on the shelves. Then he lets the customers do the rest.

He has installed six surveillance cameras to discourage shoplifting in the 45-square-metre store. Also, he is alerted by a text message if the front door stays open for longer than eight seconds or if someone tries to break it open.

"I live nearby and can always run down here with a crowbar," Ilijason said laughing, but added that hasn't been necessary since the store opened in January.

A bigger challenge has been getting some of the elderly residents in Viken, a town of 4,200 people, to get the hang of the technology involved.

Tuve Nilsson, 75, said there were many more shops in the town when he moved here with his family in 1976. He welcomed Ilijason's new store, saying it could be convenient for elderly people living alone.

"But if they can manage this (technology), I don't know," Nilsson said. "Sometimes I don't understand it."

Ilijason is considering other ways to unlock the door that wouldn't require using an app. He's ruled out face-recognition or fingerprint scanners, but is thinking of installing a credit card reader like some banks use. He's also considering having one person man the store for a few hours a day to help customers who aren't comfortable with modern technology.

Other customers loved the speed of the no-service store. Raymond Arvidsson, a friend of Ilijason's, did his shopping in less than a minute.

"No queues," he said, smiling. "Quick in, quick out. I like."


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Researchers link virus to Alaska birds with deformed beaks

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Researchers in California and Alaska are hoping they've found what's causing beaks of some bird species to grow twice as fast as normal. The disease is called avian keratin disorder. Affected birds grow beaks that are freakishly long and that sometimes curve up or down. Source
  • Chinese firm issues webcam recall after massive cyberattack

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- A Chinese electronics maker has issued a recall for millions of products sold in the U.S. following a devastating cyberattack, but is pushing back against criticism that its devices played a role in the massive disruption. Source
  • Chinese firm says it did all it could ahead of cyberattack

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- A Chinese electronics maker that has recalled millions of products sold in the U.S. said Tuesday that it did all it could to prevent a massive cyberattack that briefly blocked access to websites including Twitter and Netflix. Source
  • Plunging solar equipment prices fuel trade complaints

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING - Use of solar power is soaring, but Europe's biggest solar panel manufacturer, SolarWorld, took the surprise step last month of cutting 500 jobs from its workforce of 3,000. The reason? Global sales are on track for a record year but prices are plunging due to a glut of supply. Source
  • Dinosaurs of a feather flocked together, University of Alberta study finds

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Bird-like dinosaurs were social creatures and likely flocked together, contrary to the popular image of dinosaurs as solitary creatures, suggests a study at the University of Alberta. "It changes our perception of the species quite a bit," said Gregory Funston, a PhD student and Vanier scholar at the University of Alberta. Source
  • Blurring effect comes to iPhone 7 Plus with software update

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK - Apple's iPhone 7 Plus is getting a new camera capability -- the blurring of backgrounds to focus attention on people or other objects in the foreground. Apple's "portrait mode" feature was announced in September but was unavailable until the company released its iOS 10.1 software update Monday. Source
  • Feathered dinosaurs may have 'flocked' together like modern birds: study

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON -- An ancient bone bed in a remote Mongolian desert presents tantalizing clues that dinosaurs of a feather may have flocked together for the same reasons modern birds do. Research by University of Alberta paleontologist Gregory Funston says the deposit contains fossils from a bird-like dinosaur that were all about the same age. Source
  • 'Intentional, malicious' cyberattack led to Ontario literacy test system crash

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Ontario agency tasked with administering the first online literacy test to tens of thousands of high school students in the province last week says it was forced to pull the plug by an "intentional, malicious and sustained" cyberattack. Source
  • Heat-trapping gases surge in Earth's atmosphere: UN weather agency

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The World Meteorological Organization says heat-trapping gases in Earth's atmosphere are growing faster than before, surging permanently beyond a troubling milestone. The United Nations agency says global carbon dioxide levels, which first reached 400 parts per million last year, are likely to stay above that symbolic 400 milestone all year and for generations to come. Source
  • Ohio museum's sale of antiquities from Egypt draws criticism

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOLEDO, Ohio -- Ohio's Toledo Museum of Art is selling 68 antiquities from its collection, a move drawing criticism from a nationally known archaeologist and Egyptian officials. The Blade newspaper reports about half the items are from Egypt. Source