Stores across Korea are going unmanned and robotic fast

2021.10.25 14:20:14 | 2021.10.25 14:20:44

[Photo by Park Hyung-ki]이미지 확대

[Photo by Park Hyung-ki]

Unmanned and self- servicing is catching on fast in South Korean franchise stores through the Covid-19 momentum.

Visitors showed a great interest in booths that introduced technologies for operating unmanned stores at the International Franchise Show (IFS) held from Oct.14 to 16 in Seoul. The number of booths related to automation solutions reached 60 this year, according to the organizer, increasing from 16 in 2018, 27 in 2019 and 48 in 2020.

Self-serving stores are expanding fast in the country as it serves well for the owners in saving labor cost and customers who prefer minimum human contact in virus environment.

Convenience stores are leading the trend. BGF Retail, the operator of convenience store chain CU, introduced new point-of-sales (POS) system which allows shop owners to manage stores remotely. Owners can also monitor CCTV footages through the system and place orders via mobile.

GS25’s GS Retail developed augmented reality (AR)-featured GS25 e Room application earlier this year. The system provides 3D image of inside of a store and products on shelves by category to allow owners to monitor their stores online.

Advancement of robotics technology is speeding up the unmanned store trend. The country’s food delivery giant Baedal Minjok (Baemin) is renting its serving robots Dily Plate to 300 or more restaurants. Baemin said it aims to provide more than 600 robots to 450 stores within the year.

The phenomenon has full government support. Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement (KIRIA) under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy plans to receive applications at the end of this month to pick companies who test restaurant service robots for the next two years.

The country’s first state-led robot service project with an investment of 2 billion won ($1.7 million) will place 10 or more robots playing different roles for order placement, serving, cooking and disinfection in a franchise store as well as a controlling system which allows the robots to share information. Businesses expect the government’s support will give boost to the franchise industry.

By Kim Hyo-hye, Jin Young-hwa and Choi Mira

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]