Human-free retail has taken China by storm — and could shape the country's beauty retail sector.
Human-free retail options are expanding in China.
A number of venture-backed startups, from Bingobox to F5 Future Store, have rolled out fully automated convenience stores. Customers scan smartphone apps to enter the store, pay, and exit, eliminating the need for human store employees.
These unmanned convenience stores are also starting to serve as a new point-of-sale for personal care products.
For example, Beijing-based 17Beauty operates 12 tech-enabled “makeup booths” across Beijing and Shanghai.
Image credit: JW Intelligence
The booths are placed in public locations with high foot traffic — such as malls, offices, and transportation hubs — allowing customers to privately adjust their makeup and hair on the go. Users scan a QR code to enter the booth, where they can then access a facial recognition system that provides personalized makeup suggestions.
The booths offer both established brand name cosmetics as well as up-and-coming brands. They are replenished with new makeup products every couple of weeks based on users’ feedback. 17Beauty plans to ultimately gather enough data on user preferences to provide feedback to brands.
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