BingoBox bringing unmanned concept to Hong Kong
China’s unmanned convenience-store brand BingoBox plans to introduce its cashierless concept to Hong Kong next year, targeting neighbourhoods and suburbs.
“With unmanned stores the labour cost is eliminated, making them far more cost-effective, even in expensive cities like Hong Kong,” says BingoBox chief executive Chen Zilin.
South Korea already has an unmanned 7-Eleven outlet, termed Signature, in Seoul, while as part of its “new retail” concept Alibaba runs an unmanned coffee shop that uses facial recognition for customer payments. Also in China, JD.com has launched unmanned convenience stores that use technology to track products and customer movements.
In Hong Kong, BingoBox is talking with potential partners to jointly run its outlets. It will target areas that do not have convenience stores, such as parks, villages and public-housing estates, says Chen.
On the mainland, the company has nearly 200 stores with the aim of reaching 5000 before the end of next year.
Users scan a QR code to enter a BingoBox, place their purchases on a checkout counter that automatically scans and tallies up the total. Payments are made via mobile wallets such as Alipay or WeChat Pay.
“As BingoBox is an unmanned store that entails almost no labour cost, we can open in areas with lower foot traffic, whereas traditional convenience stores pay high rents for prime locations,” Chen says. He is not specific about store numbers for Hong Kong, just saying “double digits”.
The company is also looking to expand into South Korea and Malaysia within the next six months.
Mainland BingoBox stores generate about RMB850 (US$130) in sales each day, some raking in as much as RMB6000. Chen says the shortest break-even time for a BingoBox store was five months.
Bingbox partnered with French retail firm Auchan to launch a trial in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, last year before opening its first store, in Shanghai, in June.