有科技沒人性?無人商店該有的科技面貌應是這樣 | This is how new technologies must be used in unmanned stores

Due to a variety of reasons, unmanned stores are not developing as fast as expected. | 無人的便利商店發展沒有想像中的快速,其原因有很多。(圖/7-Eleven提供)

去(2018)年 1 月,由 7-Eleven 所推出的全台第一家無人商店出現了,不過從初期的天天爆滿,到後來的人潮稀疏,讓統一超商於近日決定暫時擱置無人店了!

TAIPEI (The China Post) – In January 2018, 7-Eleven opened its first unmanned store in Taiwan. Although it was very popular initially, its popularity has declined so much since then, that 7-Eleven decided recently to temporarily shut down the unmanned store.


Customers aren’t happy with various limitations in unmanned stores. People often feel displeased with the lack of human interaction, as they cannot receive immediate feedback when they have problems. Some are unhappy with how they cannot purchase hot food, while others feel that the limited payment methods are inconvenient.

People are more used to having human interaction when they shop. | 有人的溫度,是多數人習慣的在外購物模式。(圖/記者劉士成攝)


Despite these issues, the major issue with unmanned stores is that they are not better than manned stores in terms of the shopping experience and financial perks. (Customer often feels that the direct labor cost saved from operating unmanned stores should be enjoyed by the customers in the form of perks).

有網友分享說,7-Eleven 的 X-Store 無人商店一定要用 iCash 而不夠人性化,再加上結帳碰到問題,沒人可以問,很麻煩。而大潤發無人店也需要透過專屬的 App 才能進入店內與結帳。

Some online commentators complained that in 7-Eleven’s unmanned store, X-Store, one can only pay with 7-Eleven’s digital wallet, iCash. Not only is this one payment method inconvenient, they are also dissatisfied with their inability to resolve problems through talking to the cashier at checkout. The unmanned store operated by RT Mart also requires special apps for customers to enter the store and pay.

Unmanned stores should allow customers to use equipment such as robots to scan products, thus allowing them to get information of the product. This would also be useful in the process of restocking the store. | 無人商店應該能讓使用者透過商用機器人或相關設備,借由商品掃描條碼的方式,來獲取產品資訊,商家也能用來做補貨等應用。(圖/記者劉士成攝)

而記者的觀察是,大家還不適應無人商店的結帳模式,且結帳程序有些繁瑣(例如限制綁定該無人店的App),若面對機器結帳沒有比較快,不如選擇有”人’的店,至少店員還會告知促銷資訊、發票是否列印、是否打統編,因此「服務」是個重點, 行動支付也確實設下了門檻,讓年長者與學童無法使用消費。

Based on our reporter’s observations, people are still unaccustomed to the somewhat complicated checkout process of unmanned stores. This had caused people to think that checking out at machines is not faster than checking out with a human cashier. Furthermore, cashiers are extremely adept at creating a key component of one’s shopping experience, service. Not only do they notify customers of new sales in the store, they also ask customers whether they would like to have their receipt printed, or whether they would like to enter their Uniform-Invoice Numbers (UIN). Apart from this, the utilization of mobile payment also limits the groups of customers the store can reach. For instance, it is inconvenient for the elderly or schoolchildren to use mobile payment.

Panasonic demonstrated in CES how to utilize RFID and mobile apps to know the information of the product’s place of origin and supplying company. | Panasonic於CES展中,展示如何透過RFID與APP來掌握商品的資訊,包含產地與供應商的來源。(圖/記者劉士成攝)

目前尚無法以 7-Eleven 選擇停止營運無人店的決定,來衡量到底台灣適不適合發展無人店。主要原因有幾點,其一是雖然 7-Eleven 刻意在相鄰十步左右的距離,一左一右開出「無人店」與「一般門市」兩種店型,來測試哪邊的人潮較多,但因為只有一家無人店,用來作為衡量主要依據當然不準確。

7-Eleven’s decision to cease X-Store’s operation is not indicative of whether the unmanned store should become a popular trend in Taiwan. Although 7-Eleven placed the unmanned store next to one of their normal stores in an attempt to gauge the unmanned store’s popularity, there is only one data point in this experiment, which renders it unreasonable to make a final conclusion regarding unmanned stores.

Customers can take food out of the fridge and learn the origin of the food. | 消費者在商店中可自行取出冷藏室內的生鮮,自行查閱生鮮食品的來源。(圖/記者劉士成攝)


The few unmanned stores in Taiwan are simply not popular among the general public. However, RT Mart is taking active steps to promote them. In fact, customers are quite fond of the self-checkout sections in RT Marts—they have a choice of payment that allows them to avoid standing in lines. However, the company still employs a massive amount of staff to aid customers at self-checkout stations, which demonstrates that the company’s immediate goal is to let people get used to self-checkout rather than saving labor costs.

站在科技面的角度,記者想分享討論的是,雖然包含7-Eleven在內的無人商店,擁有像是行動支付、臉部辨識、IoT 等相關技術,但似乎都只是用來應付消費者付款、門市補貨而用,並沒有提供消費者與經營者更聰明的消費體驗與節省成本問題。舉個例子,消費者在進入無人店時,就應該接收到推播於 App上,收到商家的促銷資訊,以及建議的購買商品清單。以上都可透過物聯網、大數據與 AI 技術來達成。

Although unmanned stores employ various new technologies such as mobile payment and face recognition to aid the process of customer payment and store restocking, they are not used at all in providing the customer a better shopping experience or cutting down spending for the corporation. For example, when a customer enters an unmanned store, they should receive a push notification of relevant shopping perks and a suggested shopping list from their app. This is easily achievable using the current technologies of big data and artificial intelligence.

After scanning the food with the phone, the customer can get its related information. | 用手機掃描食品後,就能在App中得到產地等相關資訊。(圖/記者劉士成攝)

選擇商品完要結帳時,經過臉部辨識或會員卡,系統能出現消費者的會員資訊,透過之前的消費資料與大數據分析技術,主動的提供建議修正的購物資訊。例如告知這次所購買的牛奶數量過多或過少,是否要再調整,還是改推薦更優惠的牛奶品牌,亦或是有第二件半價或買一送一的優惠。系統也應主動地詢問是否需要開立發票或統編(依據過去的消費資訊帶出資料),讓消費者直接選擇Yes or No,而不是要繁瑣的自行輸入資訊。

In more concrete terms, by using facial recognition or a membership card, the system can identify the customer and utilize data of their previous purchases to suggest relevant shopping information best suited for the customer. These notifications might include information such as whether the customer should adjust how much milk they are buying this time, or whether the same item is offered for a cheaper price. The system should also ask the customer whether they would like to print a receipt or enter a UIN. Upon choosing Yes/No, the system should gather data from previous purchases to satisfy the customer’s requests automatically, instead of making them enter the necessary information each time.

It is predicted that convenience stores’ smart vending machines will become more popular, as it can satisfy more consumer needs and reduce waiting time. | 超商推出智能自販機門市,可滿足更多消費需求,又能減少等待時間,預期未來會成為趨勢。(圖/7-Eleven提供)

此外,電子標籤與 RFID 也是無人商店該提供的重點技術;記者今年在 CES 展中,就體驗了這兩種技術的結合應用。舉例來說,消費者可以隨時將產品取出掃描該生鮮的產地與保存日期,商家也能隨時透過系統調整售價(如快過期時),或許初期建置成本較高,但長期來看不但可以省下寶貴的人力成本,更可讓一切智慧化。

Moreover, unmanned stores should also develop electronic shelf labels and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. This year’s Consumer’s Electronic Show (CES) showcased the effectiveness of these technologies. When the items are taken off the shelf, the system would provide important information such as the expiry dates to the consumer.

少了人的溫度是否改由各種型態的機器人來解決,如果夠親切且速度回應快就是正面的;就像鴻海的 Pepper,我們可以在不少賣場或百貨中,看到「他」的身影,而「他」也是很受歡迎。記者認為,結帳服務型機器人不需要沒幫助的「電子肢體」,只需要好的螢幕操作界面,以及快速的操作回饋即可。而且,機器人不定要擬人化,親和性才是重點。

The shop owner can also utilize the same system to change the price based on the item’s expiry date. Although implementation of the system might be expensive, it is good long-term investment, as it can cut down labor costs. Robots can effectively replace human interaction if it can quickly respond to the customer’s questions politely. A good example of this is Foxconn’s Pepper, who appears in several shopping centers as a popular shopping assistant.

無人商店礙於建置成本發展會較緩慢,但智慧型的自動販賣機可就快速多了,因此 7-Eleven 才會決定從現在的 30 台智販機,規劃於今年底前擴增到 500 台。

We believe that checkout robots don’t need a humanoid body, as it doesn’t serve any practical use. Having a good GUI and the high response speed is enough. Due to the construction costs, unmanned stores are developing slower than smart vending machines. Since it is easier to deploy smart vending machines, 7-Eleven had expanded their plan for smart vending machines from 30 to 500.

TOUCHiN’s machine has the unique function of combining AR Photography and printing traditional photos. The customizable service allows for consumers to print pictures of a variety of themes. | TOUCHiN的機台提供傳統相片列印與AR特效合一的功能,透過客制化的服務,讓消費者可以免費列印各種主題照片。(圖/TOUCHiN提供)


Smart vending machines are essentially a smaller version of unmanned stores. The only downside is that consumers cannot inspect the product before their purchase. If the screen can display more precise information of the product and allow the user to purchase multiple items at once, there would virtually be no shopping problems for the customers.


A country’s culture also impacts how fast unmanned stores can develop. Even in China, where mobile pay is popular, unmanned stores are rare. Only a few corporations expressed willingness to invest in the field, but the actual investment always seems to fall short of their promises.


The self-checkout counter that many supermarkets provide mostly require mobile payment. In Japan, mobile payment only started developing recently. In fact, it started later than in Taiwan.


In Australia, supermarkets started providing self-checkout with credit cards long ago. One of the main reasons why unmanned stores became popular in Australia is clearly related to their culture—Australian stores usually close early on at night.

The BEST BUY smart vending machine in the LAX airport sells a variety of high-tech products such as earphones. Perhaps Taiwanese companies can cooperate with tech companies to set up smart vending machines such as these to sell these more expensive products. | 這是位於美國LA機場內的BEST BUY自動販賣機,提供相當豐富的耳機等3C產品便利購物體驗。或許台灣便利商店或無人商店業者可與電商合作,設置類似這樣的販賣機,提供較昂貴的3C商品購物服務。(圖/記者劉士成攝)

可別以為無人商店的服務僅只限於購物而已;例如最近 7-Eleven 就和 Maserati 車廠品牌打造「名車、飲料和啤酒」聯名店,以獨家販售限定商品來製造話題。而其中進駐商店內有一台機器,可以提供民眾拍照列印照片或是 IG 印照,後續還會提供印照片給買一送一之類的活動,以及玩 AR 遊戲搶好康的有趣的服務。

Unmanned stores’ function is not limited to shopping. For instance, in 7-Eleven and Maserati’s joint store, there is a machine that allows customers to take and print pictures, or even upload them on Instagram. The machine even has perks that customers can win by playing an AR game.


Through these services, unmanned stores can become more diverse and attractive to customers. Shopping is no longer the sole attracting factor for customers to unmanned stores.


As such, for the longevity of unmanned stores as a business model, companies must come up with ways to provide a more complete set of services, rather than simply offering a place to shop.


Companies must utilize recent breakthroughs in information technology to aid the customer with their shopping experience.