Tech start-up threatening the future of corner shops
‘Bodega’ is a term used in America for traditional corner shops where people can go to for basic foods and products. A new start-up is now in the process of launching a new concept which has the potential to make all these convenient stores obsolete. It involves installing a number of five-foot-wide pantries to offices, gyms and apartments which consumers can conveniently access through an app on their smartphones.
From just the touch of a button, the app will unlock the vending machine with the camera sensors registering the particular item picked up and automatically charging the credit card linked to the app. The interactive boxes will have the ability to identify which products are in demand and adjust the supply this way. This means that each pantry will be different and be customised to meet the needs of the consumers in the area.
This week 50 brand new Bodegas were unveiled by the start-up and have been installed in various locations along the West Coast of America. By the end of next year, the company is hoping for there to be over 1,000 of these amenities in the country with the idea being that wherever you are, there will always be a one that is 100 feet away from you. However, many critics have already been speculating over whether the business proposition will be sustainable one.
The start-up Bodega has enraged many Americans, particularly amongst the many immigrant business owners who have already been struggling with growing rents. They have much fiercer competition and face the prospect of losing their business.
The name of the tech start-up has fuelled more anger and has been described as ‘culturally insensitive’ as it represents the real bodegas that are now under threat. Garcia, the chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has said that it disrespects these traditional bodegas which have been all about ‘human relationship with the community’.
Other people have claimed that it is not an innovative concept as it already exists in the form of regular vending machines and many are struggling to see the difference between the two. In response to the backlash from critics, the co-founder Paul McDonald has said: ‘Challenging the urban corner store is not and has never been our goal’, however this does not mean that it won’t be a threat to the bodegas in the years to come.
Could this tech start-up really put traditional bodegas out of business?
Image: Bodega cofounders, Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan