In the Future, Grocery Stores May be More Like ATMs

Robots and motion detection expand the idea of what it means to shop

Shopping Carts
Alistair Baker/Corbis

Non-robotic grocery stores are so early 2015. That’s what shoppers in Des Moines, Iowa might be saying later this year, reports Consumerist’s Ashlee Kieler — the city may be the first to test out a grocery store that feels more like an ATM than a place to buy bread, milk and fresh produce.

The secret’s in a machine called Oasis24Seven, writes Kieler. It’s a standalone grocery store that offers on-demand groceries via what Kieler calls “a cross between an ATM and a very large vending machine.”

Featuring about 200 fresh, refrigerated grocery items, the machine uses a series of conveyor belts to select and dispense items selected by a consumer using a touch-screen. The machine only accepts electronic payments (KCCI’s Emmy Victor notes that EBT and other food assistance cards are included).

Oasis24seven US

Could the machine, which is bulletproof and features a myriad of languages, be the solution to bringing fresh grocery items to food deserts? If so, it could be a real breakthrough — the USDA estimates that 23.5 million people live in areas without access to fresh, healthy food. Or perhaps Oasis24Seven could be a boon to people who would rather interact with a robot than be subjected to small-talk with their shopping.

For those who prefer a more human grocery experience, be warned: you might not think you're interacting with machines, bu mcahines are certainly watching you. Progressive Grocer reports that new devices are making it easier to detect theft and increase sales. One tool in stores’ arsenal is the Smart Sense Dwell, which detects the presence of shoppers in specific store areas and alerts employees to their presence via two-way radio. The emits a “discreet” chime that can deter would-be thieves — but it also lets stores know when and where shoppers gather, allowing them to sell, sell, sell.

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