FamilyMart Malaysia is rolling out vending machines to improve accessibility and coverage. The first FamilyMart Mini is located at Shell Karak Highway 2. The pandemic has popularised contactless spending and the usage of QR codes, thus paving the way for the popularisation of the contactless unmanned store concept.
Another point is the restriction on the opening hours has meant that vending machine is more viable than opening a physical store especially on a highway.
Malaysia saw the first BingoBox unmanned store launched in 2016 during the previous unmanned store frenzy but the craze did not last. We are now seeing operators reassessing this concept again with Aye Smart Store at UOA Glenmarie, Shah Alam being the latest entrant.
Cashierless store is on the radar again in neighbouring countries including in South Korea. Uncommon Store in Seoul is very much like Amazon Go in the US and is designed for socially distanced shopping.
With COVID-19 likely to become endemic, brands can start with vending machine as the first step to tap into contactless and proximity shopping before moving into the more capital- and tech-intensive cashierless store.