As the convenience store industry is changing day after day due to technology, one startup company wishes to create a market that will deliver itself to you.
Ali Ahmed, a serial tech startup founder and former employee of Unilever, has launched Robomart. Based out of Santa CLara, CA, the company hopes to make shopping on demand and portable. Ahmed created a startup in the United Kingdom called Dispatch which is a delivery service that primarily delivers groceries.
Ahmed hopes to take the digital delivery experience to the U.S. but instead with a more forward business model.
The purpose of Robomart is to provide an option for customers that combines online delivery with the ability to feel and touch the produce they are selecting. Instead of just ordering groceries, consumers are hailing a car stocked with food items they are in need of.
As stated on the company website, Robomart is in the process to receive its permit from the DMV in California in order to test autonomous vehicles. It could be a while before the company is outside of testing as Google has been testing their autonomous vehicles since 2009.
Robomart isn’t standing around, twiddling their thumbs while they wait for permission to start testing. They are also part of a NVIDIA program which develops software for autonomous driving. Robomart is building software in order to achieve level 5 autonomy. Level 5 autonomy refers to the most successful which means the technology can avoid obstacles and plan paths without any intervention by humans. Putting this into perspective, Tesla’s autopilot feature is only ranked as level 2 autonomy.
While Robomart isn’t able to begin testing test, the company has already built the first prototype of the convenience store with wheels and plans to begin pilot testing soon.
The service is being marketed as a way for the smaller, local retailers to come together and compete against the big box retailers. The business model behind the service is to license the platform and vehicle as a 24 month lease to retailers.
The vehicles are designed to include heating and refrigeration systems in order to accommodate any food product.
The retailers leasing the vehicles are given access to an online dashboard with the ability to communicate with staff, customers and local law enforcement. They are also able to access sales data, analytics and a map showing the location of the vehicles. Similar to Uber, customers are able to track the vehicle’s path holding their order with the mobile app.
The new concept is being compared to the recent startup Bodega, which we wrote about back in September. The company received a large amount of backlash for their idea as many saw it as them trying to steal business from the smaller, independent convenience stores.
A number of companies are trying to get products to consumers faster using similar business plans. Starship Technologies is testing sidewalk robots in select locations and Cargo has teamed with Uber to bring the convenience store into the car.
There is a major difference between Robomart and the other concepts. While Cargo and Starship have been . Even though Robomart is still behind, it doesn’t mean it will never be available. Even if Robomart isn’t successful, the concept has clearly built much hype as consumers are always trying to find new ways of receiving their needs and wants much faster using technology.