Staff-Free Stores Come to Rural Sweden

Long bereft of shopping options, these cashierless shops are returning to smaller Swedish communities. 

March 10, 2021

Rural Sweden Town

HUMMELSTA, Sweden—The red wooden rectangle roughly the size of a mobile home is now providing grocery essentials to Hummelsta, something the town’s residents hadn’t seen in a decade, the BBC News reports. Run by Lifvs, the cashier-free shop stocks fresh produce, crackers, bread and frozen meatballs, among other groceries.

Shoppers access the store via the Lifvs app, then scan barcodes using their smartphone device and pay via a pre-registered credit card. Lifvs is a startup that debuted in 2018 with a mission to bring food retail stores to remote locations that lack shops.

While Amazon Go and other cashierless stores have opened in metro areas, Lifvs co-founder Daniel Lundh saw an opportunity in rural Sweden. “There were food deserts where people had to travel to the next town or city to pick up their groceries and so we definitely saw that there was a need,” he said.

Using a container rather than an actual storefront gives Lifvs the flexibility to shift locations if foot traffic isn’t good. So far, the gamble has paid off, as Lifvs has opened 20 new locations in rural areas since March 2020.

With technology limiting only two people inside the store at a time, Lifvs has easily adapted to coronavirus restrictions. "Customers like to shop in our store because for one, they can be by themselves. They can come in the middle of the night. And the most important thing is it has less touch points," said Lundh.

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