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Swede pioneers app for unmanned village shop

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The app will not only open the shop's door but will also function as a scanner to register each purchase. Photo: Fredrik Persson / TT
12:08 CET+01:00
As small shops in rural communities continue to close, Robert Ilijason has come up with an ingenious solution – unmanned grocery stores.

Ilijason told the Swedish regional newspaper, Helsingborgs Dagblad, that he developed the idea one night after he dropped his last jar of baby food at home in Viken, near Helsingborg in southern Sweden, and had to drive 20km to the closest open store to buy more.

“I thought that there should be a store here and started thinking about how to solve this problem in a modern, purely technical, way. The last grocery store we had in the village closed years ago."

The unmanned grocery store, in the old post office building in Viken, will be open around the clock, 365 days a year and uses an app that not only opens the shop's door to registered customers, but also functions as a scanner to approve each purchase. Customers then receive a monthly bill.

Shoppers will also be able to influence what the shop stocks.

“If people want pepper chips instead of salt and vinegar potato chips they can ask for them. We should ask people what they want. It will be a support service in the app where people can write what they think the shop lacks,” Ilijason said.

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The opening of Ilijason's first store in Viken is pending Apple's approval of his app, but there are plans to roll out more shops in other small communities in the surrounding area that lack grocery stores.

“My ambition is to spread this to other small towns. This can be ‘General Store 2.0.' For example in Molle (20kms north of Viken), I would like to start a shop quite promptly.”

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