Rise of the Grocery Machines


With each passing year, mechanization is becoming more commonplace in businesses that were once considered difficult to automate. As the interaction between customers and employees diminishes, does the experience one receives from automation reduce the satisfaction of the transaction?

Recently, Oasis24seven announced that it would soon install the first fully-automated convenience store in Des Moines, IA. Designed to function as an outdoor vending machine of large-scale proportion, the stores will feature anywhere from 200-800 items that range in size from 1oz to 10lbs. The store will be open 24 hours per day, seven days per week and be controlled by a user friendly interface terminal. Customers of the store can also see available items on store shelves through thick glass protecting the temperature-controlled environment. No employees will work at the store, and all customer interaction with the store will be conducted through the interactive control screen.

Items at a fully automated store can be purchased through electronic forms of payment and dispensed in a large slot next to the control screen. Products that reach expiration will automatically be removed from store shelves and become unavailable for purchase.

While this fully automated convenience store will be the first of its kind when it opens for business, it won’t be entirely unfamiliar for consumers. Individuals have used a growing number of machines to conduct transaction over the years, and customer to machine interaction is becoming commonplace. Individuals can order many items through machines such as DVDs and game rentals, made-to-order keys, and lottery tickets. These were all available exclusively over the counter not long ago. Consumers also use self-checkout lanes at grocery stores, and in some locations, order fast food items through interactive kiosks.

With the continued proliferation of machines and high-tech automation, human to human interaction for transactions may one day become a thing of the past.

Do you think interacting with machines to conduct business transactions is a less satisfying experience than human face-to-face contact?



  1. grannybunny

     /  July 7, 2015

    Yes, interacting with machines is less satisfying than dealing with a real human being. With machines, you are restricted to their limited menu of choices. Sometimes, the choices are confusing, and you end up in a loop, such as the “voice mail hell” in which we occasionally find ourselves when trying to accomplish something through automated telephone answering systems. With a person, you can ask questions, get your questions answered and otherwise drive the agenda. The major advantage of machines is that they are available 24/7, oft-times when humans are not. No one wants to go back to the days before ATMs, etc., but, hopefully, there will always be a place for personal service.

  2. Jonn

     /  July 7, 2015

    I do like the convenience of machines, but I worry about jobs in the next 10-20 years. I see machines now doing things people once did in lower skilled positions. If people don’t have an education or specialized skill in the future, where will they work? I choose to do business with a person at stores when I can, but that won’t be an option someday.

  3. Anonymous

     /  July 8, 2015

    The APC is faster than standing in line at my PO :/

    • grannybunny

       /  July 8, 2015

      Yes, the APC can be quicker, especially for simple, routine, transactions. The ones I’ve used, though, only have a single design of First-Class stamps available, usually the original Liberty Bell Forever Stamp.

  4. Anonymous

     /  July 8, 2015

    The more I can do without having to interact with a human, the happier I am.

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