After the success of future store – the first X-STORE opened in January 2018, leading convenience store chain 7-ELEVEN launched the second X-STORE shop in Taiwan this July.
With a half-year upgrading, the second X-STORE shows an improvement on the speed of image recognition. Digital application scenarios are built through Hanshow ESL within the shop. The new feature in the design of “two zones in one store” also reveals a potential direction of X-STORE’s development in the future.
Devices, services and products
The idea of the name “X-STORE” comes from eXplore, eXperience and eXcellent. From the aspect of store layout and configuration, X-STORE has been one of the smartest unmanned convenience stores.
Covers approximately an area of 26 m2 , 7-ELEVEN’s second X-STORE is equipped with over 900 products and artificial intelligence technologies from more than 20 companies all over the world, including facial recognition, product identification, Hanshow ESL, IOT system, intelligent voice system, RFID self-Checkout and payment system, and vacuum cleaning robots, etc.
Different from the first store, which is located in corporate headquarters and only opened to internal company employees as during the initial testing phase, X-STORE 2, located in Keelung Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, opens to the general market, to be more precise, to over 1.5 million OPENPOINT members. X-STORE 2 has adjusted and optimized certain devices and services based on the actual operating situation and customer demand data collected from the first X-STORE.
For instance, the customer volume experiences a substantial increase after the first store opened to general public, which also reveals that the speed of self-checkout is a major problem to the shopping experience. Therefore, technicians run a full upgrade to both software and hardware of X-STORE 2 targeting this issue, making the facial recognition and checkout product identification twice quicker than before.
It also found out that children’s height was not taken into consideration when designing the facial recognition system. In X-STORE 2, double lenses are installed at different heights to solve the problem. For customers who are not used to facial recognition, OPENPOINT scan&swipe function is added at the entrance.
To help handle the frequent instore promotions and implement customized marketing plans, all goods in X-STORE 2 are categorized in and applied with Hanshow ESL. One-click price change, and making the price changing unmannerly, lowering the cost and improving the efficiency of store management and operation.
“Two zones in one store”
Part from the technology updates, X-STORE 2 has also been revised and improved in other areas. Product structure is adjusted, e.g. adding MUJI products to the shelf, because the store is located near Songshan High School and underground stations. Another thing worth mentioning is that X-STORE 2 opens 24 hours instead of only opening from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the first one.
It doesn’t sound that special due to the fact that most of the 7-ELEVEN convenience stores open 24 hours currently. The operators are also trying to have it support the night shift by making X-STORE running around the clock. That’s why X-STORE 2 is designed based on the original convenience store and takes half of the space. The layout is called “two zones in one store”.
In the day time, customer can choose to shop in the normal zone on the right-hand side, enjoying the services from shop assistants, or to the X-STORE on the left-hand side to have unmanned shopping experience. In the night time, the normal zone closes and the X-STORE remains operating. Night duty staff will still stay for replenishment purposes. Opening X-STORE during the nighttime mainly works to support and ease the burden of the night shift. Installing Hanshow ESL is also helping to free the staff from onerous procedures and simplify the price changing process to have more time for something more valuable.
Generally speaking, 7-ELEVEN’s choice to open the second X-STORE in a place with larger customer flows this time means the strategy and marketing plan are more opened and matured than the first one. The daily management is getting closer to a real convenience store. But it is still under testing and whether the model is suitable for replicating key cost remains questioned. Also, the relevant principal pointed out, the priority of the X-STORE is to find out customer demands and figure out how technologies can be perfectly embodied to serve the customer.