Trade

A hundred unmanned stores will set up in the region

DIY applied to commerce. It has been a long time since automatic checkouts appeared in traditional supermarkets and everyone has already succumbed to this facility, if only to save time. This principle, two associates pushed it to its climax with Boxy, a concept of completely autonomous mini-supermarkets, in other words, without staff inside. The company, which has around thirty stores in Île-de-France, will launch an assault on Hauts-de-France from April.

If we want to roughly summarize the concept, Boxy is a kind of mix between automatic supermarket checkouts and candy dispensers, all stuffed with technology and compressed in recycled shipping containers. Inside, a selection of 250 daily products, mainly food, and no employees: “The customer downloads the Boxy application in which he enters his bank card. He enters the store by scanning a flashcode, does his shopping and leaves freely. These are the sensors on the shelves combined with the tracking cameras which calculate its basket thanks to an algorithm and then debit the bank card, ”explains David Gabai, co-founder of Boxy. According to him, errors are rare, around 1% in favor or against the client.

“Cover the 60% of French people who do not have access to a local shop”

This company thus dares what Auchan, which has comparable technology, particularly in China, still refuses to develop in France. “Our approach is different, especially on supply. We are opening micro-warehouses that act as logistics platforms for the surrounding stores. This allows us to control stocks surgically,” explains the entrepreneur. Boxy’s policy of setting up in the territories is also different. “Our idea, says David Gabai, is to cover the 60% of French people who do not have access to a local shop less than 5 minutes away. “This excludes a priori the city centers of large cities, like Paris where Boxy is mainly located in the second ring.

For Hauts-de-France, commercial development will begin in a few days and the first establishments are expected in early 2023. The company primarily targets cities between 1,500 and less than 70,000 inhabitants, with a low or even non-existent food supply. Then, depending on the possibilities, the convenience store can be set up either in public space (school car parks, train station forecourts), or in private space (companies, university campuses, donors). “All you need is 15 m2 on the ground and a power outlet. The installation does not take more than 24 hours”, assures the co-founder.

In the region, Boxy hopes to install a hundred autonomous mini-markets in two years. In terms of jobs created, this represents between 15 and 20 positions. Because if there is no employee in the stores, it is necessary on the other hand in the warehouses, to ensure the deliveries and to carry out the shelving. Not to mention the 40 employees who work in technical development, of which Boxy intends to double the number this year.

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