What do you do when a third of your employees call in sick? You sell yourventure and invest in a solution that needs no employees. Erez Gur, founderand CEO of CYB-ORG, revolutionised the unmanned store concept.

How it all began

Erez Gur used to own twenty pet shops in Israel. In one week, 30% of hisemployees called in sick or absent, and he discovered that three workers hadtaken products with them without paying. He began to wonder whether it waspossible to create a shop without employees, delivery personnel and managers.It would make it so much easier if absence could be reduced to 0%.

Reliable concept

First he looked into vending machines, but people want to ‘touch and feel’ aproduct before buying it and this is obviously not possible with vendingmachines. Thinking out of the box, Erez got in touch with two people in hisnetwork who have a lot of experience in algorithms and automation: Dr. OferLevi and Prof. Michael Saunders.

Having decided that imitating Amazon Go would not be a good idea – because ofthe system’s 8% risk of mistakes and a price tag of $100 million (€92.1) pershop – Erez thought about more acceptable solutions. The team went on tocreate technology with a 100% identification rate, using fingerprints andfacial recognition. This system also eliminates ethical problems likediscrimination.

Erez Gur sold his pet shops and invested all the money in concept development,avoiding the need for finding private investors or setting up an investmentfirm.

Who is the customer?

The first customers to go to an unmanned shop said they went there because ofthe prices and because they did not have to talk to people. It was clear thatyoung people often did not want to be recognised when shopping. Customers goto a shop with staff to ask for advice, but after buying a product once, theyknow what they want. A shop without staff is obviously cheaper.

The price tag

Building an unmanned shop costs around $70,000 (€64,500). Working as a one-stop-shop for automated retail, CYB-ORG supplies the hardware and thesoftware. A client pays $500 (€460.6) per month to get software updates, andthe total monthly expense of running a shop like this is approximately $2,500(€2,303).

Retail in car parks

The best location for building an unmanned shop is a shopping centre car park.Shopping centres – malls or retail parks in some countries – will put around$100,000 (€92,130) into building unmanned shops, which they then rent toretailers for approximately $2,000 (€1,843) per month. The malls rent outtheir parking area too, so customers can quickly make a purchase close towhere they have parked their car.

Currently, there are fifteen unmanned shops of this kind – thirteen in Israeland two in Poland. A retailer in Israel plans to build another 100 unmannedshops in shopping mall car parks.

Source: Pets International

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