A few days ago, I read Neste’s article regarding opening a Europe’s first RFID-based (Radio Frequency Identification) self-service store in Finland. It immediately caught my attention as I have been delving with the issues also before in Asia. Today in the middle of covid 19 pandemic I decided to pay a visit to the store and the experience was surprisingly pleasant!
To my understanding Neste’s solution uses passive RFID system developed by Nordic ID added with automated inventory management system, which automatically orders more items if needed. It also takes into account the “best before dates” of the products.
The concept as such is not new, as several chains in China and in South-Korea are using it already with different nuances though (they tend to use WeChat Pay or Alipay, which cannot be used in Neste’s store the older versions also require the customer to scan every product they select).
How it works in Helsinki then? Firstly, the customer needs to register in the Neste mobile app, which opens the door to the store. Then the customer selects the products she or he wants and proceed to the checkout. I selected a coffee. The self-checkout is RFID-based and scans all the products simultaneously.
The payment can then be made using Apple Pay, Google Pay or a regular payment card. In the future I would also suggest adding Alipay or WeChat Pay as Helsinki is filled with Asian tourists with limited language proficiency.
How’s the customer experience then? Well, I found the experience swift, easy, pleasant, and private, which during the pandemic at least is important. Using the Neste mobile app to enter the store went nicely. I would expect though the app to give shopping advices based on my purchase history or suggest which items to choose.
The app also has my credit/debit card information, which could be used in the payment phase. This time however I used it only to enter the store, so there’s room for development.
Overall, the experience was nice, and I hope in the future Neste will develop the concept even further and expand the assortment. I will visit the shop again!