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Jan. 4, 2012

Robotic Convenience Store to be Installed at Apartment Community

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Fort Worth, Texas—Ladera Palms Apartment Homes in Fort Worth will soon be home to Shop24, a self-contained, totally automated, robotic convenience store. According to Shop24 Global LLC, the company that makes the robotic retailers, Ladera Palms will have the distinction of being the first apartment property anywhere to feature one of the devices.

The concentration of people at an apartment community is a natural fit for the robo-stores, though until now most of the machines in operation are located on college campuses. Shop24 Global stores dispense a variety of items, such as snacks, cleaning supplies, medicine and even full meals. The robo-stores dispense these items more quickly, ShopGlobal24 says, than even the time it takes to shop at a traditional convenience store.

The nine-foot-plus-tall machine offers up to 200 traditional items on a 24-hour basis, ranging in weight from less than one ounce to eight pounds. The machine also accepts pretty much the same kinds of payments that conveniences stores do: credit cards, debit cards, and even cash and supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) cards.

Ladera Palms might be the first apartment community with a Shop24, but Michael A. Weigel, chief marketing and sales officer for ShopGlobal24, tells MHN that other property managers are interested in the concept. “Not only have we had commitments and signings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but also interest in other cities across the country. We knew that we were a natural match for the multi-unit world due to our success in other channels, but we had no idea that the reception to our stores would be as strong as it is.”

Weigel says that multifamily owners and managers are interested in the robotic stores because of their revenue potential, but also because they’re amenities. “To be able to offer the ultra-convenience of simply walking to a Shop24 store from their apartment—and getting the most popular items sold in a convenience store—is a strong amenity,” he says. “It might be a way to help keep the residents as customers, and not look elsewhere to move.”

Weigel adds that all a Shop24 needs is about 140 square feet of unused space. “Management also likes the fact the this profitable amenity can be on their properties, while we take care of the actual running and management of the store itself,” he explains.

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