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Moby Mart: The Supermarket That Comes to You

· ecommerce,Platforms

Words you'd never think you'd see combined: 'Self-driving' and 'supermarket'.

The Moby Mart is just that. The Moby Mart is a self-driving, autonomous, staffless, mobile store. Open 24 hours every day of the year, merging online and offline retailing. No lines, no checkout.

Think Amazon Go on wheels.

Here's how it works:

  • You find the closest Moby with what else, an app. When you find or meet up with the solar powered Moby, you open the doors with an app
  • The doors open, you look around and scan what you need with your phone (the woman in the concept video is buying gum, cookies, and sneakers in the video because that's what you do in the middle of the night)
  • You checkout and your account are charged.
  • No waiting, no lines, no cash. 24-7.

The store is controlled by semi artificial-intelligence with holographic cashiers and store clerks to assist you as you shop. The store is even equipped with “microdrones” on the top of the Mart that enables it to make door side deliveries and float to high apartment windows and make deliveries within a 3-mile radius.

The Moby Mart is a collaborative effort between Hefei University in China and the Switzerland-based company Wheelys, which specializes in mobile retail solutions like bicycle-powered coffee stands.

Per Cromwell, Moby Mart's lead designer, told NPR the business model of this store is the result of his desire to bring together all the benefits of in-person and online ordering:

“Stores needs to be more flexible to meet the demands of the future. Rents will go up in prime locations, margins will go down on a lot of products due to online retail. Stores need to become more efficient. Mobile and staffless is to date the most flexible and efficient solution. When online and offline merge, a new kind of store is needed.”

So what is the real-world practical application of the Moby Mart? I couldn't see this thing randomly roaming an urban city street (there's enough congestion with buses, bikes, cabs, and Ubers). A more practical application would be pulling up to a sporting event, college campus or a festival. We'd have to see how human nature would work in these instances since we al know that some people can't even be trusted with portable toilets at such events.

Each Moby Mart costs $100K – far less expensive than opening a traditional retail location. Beta testing is now taking place in Shanghai, China. Four to six more Moby Marts will arrive in the coming year, with hundreds more planned for deployment in 2018, and they’ll begin by selling things like food, groceries, and coffee.

Content for this article was pulled from the eCommerce Minute,
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