Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Q-Shops: Wave of the Future?

Even more convenient convenience stores....

Taiwan's first two Q-Shops were set up by the OK convenience chain store last November under a promotion program for intelligent stores presented by the Commerce Department under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Customers can buy groceries, snacks and drinks from vending machines at the unmanned Q-Shops, using cash or credit cards. Clients can talk to clerks or security guards via intercom at each vending machine if they have any problems with the machines.

According to the statistics, more than 35,000 people made purchases at the two Q-Shops for total transactions of NT$580,000 (US$17,575) since their opening November 28 last year. Only 5 percent of the customers used credit cards.

Yang Hui-wen, a section chief of the Innovative Digitech-Enabled Applications and Services Institute (IDEAS) under the Institute for Information Industry, which offers software assistance to the project, noted that with the unmanned convenience stores reducing significantly their costs in personnel and rent, the Q-Shops had good profit margins, although the transactions were small.

Plans are to expand unmanned shops into various other businesses such as gas stations and digital photo printing.

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