After dropping what turned out to be his last jar of baby food on the floor, Robert Ilijason, who was then home alone with his son, had no choice but to make a drive to find a supermarket that was open and buy a new one.
This was no easy task, as shops close early in many rural areas, leaving individuals with nowhere to go to get any last minute necessities late at night.
The 39-year-old dad/ IT specialist has since made it his mission to offer convenience to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation—which is why he opened the first 24-hour, unmanned shop. To access the shop, you use your phone, and interestingly, you use your phone for everything else in the store as well.
His store carries basic household grocery items such as bread, milk, sugar, canned goods, diapers, and other items typically found in small convenience stores. To minimize the risk of theft, the store doesn’t carry tobacco or other medical drugs.
For late night cravings or odd hour emergencies, Ilijason gives customers access to the shop through an app and make purchases by scanning their items. Customers are required to register for the service and are charged for their purchases monthly via a monthly invoice that gets sent to them.
His stock is delivered at the shop where he stacks the products on the shelves. From there, it’s all in the customers’ hands. In terms of security, the store has six surveillance cameras that hope to discourage shoplifters, and he is automatically alerted when the door is left open too long (more than 8 seconds) or if someone tries to forcibly enter.
“My ambition is to spread this idea to other villages and small towns,” said Ilijason. “It is incredible that no one has thought of his before.”
Hopefully, the new business model will lower the overhead cost of running convenience shops in rural areas in the country. But the bigger challenge is in getting elderly residents of the town to get used to the technology and enjoy the convenience it offers.