Minimum Wage Hike Boosts Self-Service Convenience Stores

  • By Chae Sung-jin

    August 21, 2018 10:56

    Many convenience stores are speeding up the replacement of part-time workers with self-service machines to cope with the 29.1-percent minimum wage hike over the last two years.

    Franchises are providing the self-service machines to keep outlets open 24 hours a day.

    7-Eleven on Monday started a trial run of 7-Eleven Express, a self-service version of the stores consisting of five vending machines that sell some 200 kinds of products, from beverages to processed food.

    A 7-Eleven spokesman said, "We will start trial runs in four locations in downtown Seoul and then decide whether to expand them."

    Consumers try out a self-service machine at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Seoul on Monday.

    E-Mart began operating late-night self-service counters in May. When part-time workers finish work at midnight, vending machines outside take over until 6 a.m. The vending machines sell all kinds of products like boxed meals and rice balls. E-Mart plans to expand the number of late-night self-service counters to around 70 stores nationwide by the end of this year.

    BGF Retail, which operates the CU chain of convenience stores, has developed a smartphone app that allows customers to scan and pay for products using their phones.

    Superstores are also increasing the number of self-checkout tills. E-Mart, which introduced them in January, now operates them at 40 out of its 140 stores nationwide. Lotte Mart also plans to increase self-checkout counters to 400 stores by the end of this year.

    At McDonald's, Lotteria and Burger King, self-service kiosks have been set up in almost half of all stores. Now even small restaurants have started to follow suit, leading to a boom for the manufacturers.

    Self-service kiosk sales during the second half of this year are expected to increase threefold compared to the same period of 2017.

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