Startup Bodega wants to install automated pantry boxes in hallways of residential buildings, gyms, and offices. Are the good ol’ mom-and-pop corner stores under threat?
Launched by former Google employees Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan, Bodega offers app-operated 5-foot wide vending machines that can be installed in urban apartment blocks. The company claims to combine “the convenience of online ordering with the instant gratification of real world retail,” and it’s doing so by implementing smart technologies that are familiar to retail innovations such as Amazon’s Dash Button and its recent automated supermarket.
The glass doors of the pantry boxes can be opened by typing the ‘store code’ into the app. Purchases are being made through cameras inside the Bodega, which register the goods a customer picks up and automatically charge the credit card that’s linked to the app. Bodega claims that it wants to bring your daily essentials not a mile, but just 100 feet away — in your hallway, common room, gym, or office. The startup basically provides urban dwellers with the convenience of the corner store, but saves them the walk (all the way!) to the end of the street.
Although many people already labeled Bodega as nothing more than a fancy looking vending machine for millennials, the startup has provoked quite a stir on social media. Some critics disapprove of the chosen name, taking into account the fact that this company’s name is inspired by the typical mom-and-pop corner stores in large American cities that it wants to force out of business.