The expansion of the non-face-to-face market is having a significant impact on the way stores operate. The rising minimum wage has led to an increase in the preference for unmanned services, and the number of minimally staffed or unmanned stores using KIOSK is on the fast rise. This is most evident in convenience stores, where CU, GS25, 7-Eleven, and E-Mart24 are rapidly expanding unmanned stores. The number of unmanned convenience stores exceeded 3,300 earlier this year. However, issues such as theft, security, store management, and restrictions on what can be sold have been raised, and a breakthrough is needed.
Introduceing man-running-like manless stores
More than 300 manless stores nationwide are using it
Inex developed the first unmanned control system for internet cafes in Korea, and it is used in various places such as screen golf, motels, and coin karaoke. The company has unmanned more than 10 internet cafes since October 2017, and the system, which has been field-tested for about two years, is currently being used in about 350 stores and has received high satisfaction. The system provides real-time monitoring, remote control, video response, and broadcasting to provide the same operations as having a human presence in the store, while control is handled by highly trained professionals. The company began building a nationwide branch network in 2019 and introduced the first nationwide screen golf in April 2021, creating a success story. “Our remote control system at screen golf stores is very popular with both users and operators. We get a lot of calls of inquiries even though it’s not yet very well known.” says Inex CEO Jungmin Cho. Taking the momentum, the company is expanding into other areas, including alcohol and tobacco-specialized convenient stores.
Remote control from entering to management
Many businesses choose to go unmanned to stabilize their profits, but in reality, they are often less profitable than if they had a human operator. However, stores that have implemented Inex are seeing more stable revenue than before, and some are even seeing higher revenue depending on the store. With a total of three controllers, Inex provides door access control, as well as live store response, broadcasting, and unauthorized access control. For access, AI SMART FREE PASS is applied to improve convenience, and even if the door is opened randomly or with a registered member, it can be checked through the control system to check unauthorized entry to tackle offenders. “We’ve had cases where controllers have been able to call the police right away and catch the offenders because they see the store in real time.” says CEO Cho. Vectorial AI technology allows users to register their faces once and get a free pass to Inex unmanned stores nationwide, making it even more convenient, and the company is currently patenting the system.
Remote control for food stores
Expanding application to AI and robot
With the existing unmanned system, food cannot be sold except through vending machines, so unmanning will reduce the number of items, which will affect sales. But Inex makes it possible. Inex controls smart locks on liquor refrigerators and tobacco displays with automatic adult verification between merchants, along with AI facial recognition and ID card reading with OCR. Even if the buyer takes out alcohol and cigarettes without authorization, the system can always check through real-time CCTV monitoring as well as dealing with issues on the help desk of the store. Inex can utilize existing CCTV without having to install many additional devices in the store, and the previous management program can still be used, so there is no significant cost overrun. The nation’s first Inex merchant intranet system also enables quick and convenient requests for control and maintenance 24 hours a day. Inex is helping small businesses increase sales, relieve worker stress, reduce labor costs, and improve the quality of life for small business owners by operating around the clock. “We will provide cutting-edge services by applying our control system to AI and robotics technologies in the future, and we will always do our best based on the WIN-WIN mindset.” says CEO Cho.