Norgesgruppen is expanding, and now there will be more partially unmanned stores.
A total of four Norgesgruppen stores will test new technology that makes it possible to keep convenience stores open longer than they can afford to have employees at work.
– The goal is to ensure that it will be easier for the local shops to survive, since they will have longer opening hours, says Hanne Evensen in Kjøpmannshuset, which runs the local shops Nærbutikken, Spar and Joker.
Kjøpmannshuset is under Norgesgruppen, which owns, among other things, Kiwi and Meny.
Evensen says that this is a pilot project under the auspices of the Mercury program. It is a development program for shops in rural Norway, and the program is owned by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization.
– You enter the store by using your bank card, then you pick up the goods you need, and pay in the self-service checkouts on the way out, Evensen explains.
To get out, you need to scan the receipt.
Free up time
Norgesgruppen now has four partially unmanned stores. Last year also opened Hegna Landhandel in Telemark, which is Norway’s first completely self-service store, which is also open 24 hours a day.
Here are the four Convenience Stores, which as of this year are partially unmanned, and open 24 hours a day:
- Lyngdal Landhandel – Flesberg municipality in Viken
- Svatsum Samvirkelag AS – Gausdal municipality in the Inland
- Åmdals Verk Daglegvare AS – Tokke municipality in Telemark and Vestfold
- Tufsingdal Landhandel AS – Os municipality in the Inland. This opens next week.
– It will be easier for the locals to use the store, since they can shop when it suits them, Evensen says.
She says that in many of the small local shops there are few employees, the hours of the day they are at work, they can spend more time on chores in the shop than at the checkout. This is because the stores have self-service checkouts, since they are unmanned for part of the day.
– They are given free time to refill goods and help customers.
Watch the video below to see when Nettavisen visited Hegna Landhandel last summer:
In shops without service, there is no one who can take care so nothing goes wrong or that no one steals goods. However, Evensen does not think it will be a widespread problem.
– There will always be a risk that someone abuses it, but we have not experienced that there has been theft in the unattended stores until now, she says.
At the same time, Evensen points out that there are cameras in the shops, and you have to register your bank card to get into the shop.
– But we will never be able to avoid stealing one hundred percent, she says.
Steinar Fredheim, department manager at the District Center and subject manager for Merkur, says that a total of eight Merkur stores will be opened during the autumn.
– How long will the pilot project last?
– Basically, it is a pilot to gain experience. We will not wait that long before we gain experience from the stores, and eventually we will see what effect it has for the local community, he says.
Fredheim says it is difficult to say specifically how long they will test out partially unmanned stores, but he thinks it will meet expectations.
– We see that Hegna Landhandel has done very well since they opened. It is interesting to see how the customers are distributed around the clock, and at times when the store would normally be closed. Accessibility is an important key word, he says.
Fully self-service stores or partially unmanned stores are important in the districts because in some cases it may be the alternative to closure.
– Many of the smallest stores have low profitability, few employees and it is difficult to match the opening hours and service you can get at larger stores and shopping malls, he says.
Some shops have to close at 5 pm, and are thus not available for commuters and other groups who would like to shop in the afternoon and evening. Fredheim therefore believes it is a good solution that the local store can be partially self-service.
Feel free to say your opinion in the poll before you read on, the article continues below.
Several chains are betting
This summer, Nettavisen wrote about Coop, which is Norway’s second largest grocery group, which has also chosen to focus on unmanned stores.
Last year, they opened their first store, which is open without employees at work part of the day, and this is located in Bogstadveien in Oslo. Here, customers can lock themselves into the store, find the items they want, and pay at the self-service checkouts before they go out.
Coop chooses to step up this initiative, and will have two new stores without employees for part of the day. The chosen ones this time are Coop Marked Folkestad, which is located in Volda municipality, and a Coop Market in Nedre Eggedal. The latter, which opens already in October, will at the same time be re-profiled for Prix.
However, the latter two stores will not be open 24 hours a day, only extended opening hours. But new technology is especially important for keeping the shops in the villages.
– We have many stores in the districts and some of them do not have the financial basis to have the opening hours that customers expect. Turnover is straightforward and easily too low. This means that the store can be opened on an equal footing with the stores in larger locations, said Rune Økland, operations director for groceries in Coop Nordvest, to Nettavisen.
He believes that will have many partially unmanned Coop stores in the future.
The store chain Snarkjøp is also investing in partially unmanned stores, and opened one store in Vaksdal municipality in Western Norway in May, and will eventually open one in Ullensvang municipality in Western Norway.