You’ve heard of Moby Mart. Now, meet BingoBox. It seems like the staffless, self-service, mobile-powered 24/7 convenience store is what's trending in Shanghai right now.
Launched by the tech startup of the same name in Guangdong’s Zhongshan City, BingoBox has made its way to Shanghai, offering goods at cheaper prices than other convenience stores. The first BingoBox is located in Yangpu district, within the parking structure of Auchan Supermarket, though a second has also been unveiled at the RT-Mart headquarters. The selection of items like drinks, packaged food and other daily necessities is similar to what can be found at a standard 7-Eleven, FamilyMart or Lawson.
Enter by scanning a QR code by the door and registering with your phone number through WeChat. The door will then unlock, and you’ll be free browse around and select products.
To pay for items via mobile, simply place them on the scanner of the self-checkout kiosk and scan one of the QR codes displayed on the screen. If a customer needs assistance or if a malfunction occurs, pressing a button on the kiosk will connect them with a BingoBox employee though real-time video chat.
To exit, scan another QR code, which will verify that you have indeed paid. If anyone tries to leave BingoBox with items they did not purchase, an alarm will be triggered.
Curious to test out the concept, we went to BingoBox ourselves. The shopping experience was smooth and trouble-free, but we observed another shopper struggle to leave the store after he made his purchases. It seems as though a glitch may occasionally prevent the door from opening even after the QR code has been scanned. While there are arguably worse places to be trapped than in a convenience store, pressing an exit button on the wall will immediately unlock the door.
With the ubiquity of mobile payments in China and the population’s general proclivity for embracing new technologies, there’s good reason to believe that concepts like BingoBox will continue to take off in Shanghai.
Photos by Audrey Chen
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