The Linzer Tabakfabrik gets a fully automated, employee-free supermarket

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The idea does indeed sound fantastic – and thwarts the tiresome discussion about opening times and employees: Mini supermarkets up to 80m2 open around the clock, which can be accessed using a mobile phone and app and do not require any employees – the Trauner Unimarkt Group wants to revolutionize retail with this. The second such mini-supermarket in Linz will soon open in the Tabakfabrik.

Across Austria, more than 600 municipalities are already without local suppliers. The Unimarkt Group has always been deeply rooted in the region and in rural areas and launched a new idea for this area in 2021: the “UNIBox” – up to 80m² mini supermarkets with self-service and access via mobile phone and app. Up to 1,000 everyday items are available there. The shops are operated in a franchise system.

There are also cigarettes, coffee/cocoa and pizza from the machines and a pick-up station for Amazon orders.

Brave new world of shopping: Will more and more supermarkets soon be shopping without staff?

In addition to the nine locations, most of which are in rural areas, there are now more and more in the city of Linz: at the intersection between the Ebelsberg bypass and Lunzerstraße, the first “UNIBox” on Linz soil was opened at a large self-service petrol station in January.

And the second such 80m2 mini supermarket in Linz will soon open in the Tabakfabrik. After completion of the Quadrille ensemble, another, albeit large and “real” supermarket will move into the tobacco factory.

Nice new shopping world? An Amazon pick-up machine was also considered at the Liunzerstraße location.

Open 365 days a year and around the clock
“Checked in” is done using an app, which is also used to unlock the sliding door mechanism at the entrance. You scan the items yourself and pay online using a credit or debit card. It is open from midnight to midnight, 365 days a year.

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Access to the UNIBox mini supermarkets is via smartphone, app and QR code.

On-site employees are no longer necessary
The UNIBox does not require permanent employees on site. It is obvious that large supermarkets could soon become “employee-free” according to a similar system. Even if not everyone likes the idea: it is the (digital) future. What hardly anyone under the age of 50 still knows: Today’s standard self-service supermarkets or self-filling up at the petrol pumps were also unthinkable a few decades ago, but today it has long been part of everyday life.

In addition to the UNIBox and groceries, there are also pizza, drinks, coffee and cigarettes from vending machines at the Lunzerstrasse location.

33 UNIBoxes in the current financial year
There are currently ten UNIBox locations, and another 23 UNIBoxes are to be opened in the current financial year. “Digitization is very important and necessary for us as the Unimarkt Group. UNIBox is a franchise store concept that ensures the comprehensive on-site supply of everyday goods in rural areas and thus increases the quality of life in these areas,” says Andreas Haider, Managing Director of the Unimarkt Group, on the UNIBox idea.
The UNIBox with a size of up to 80m² offers an expandable and mobile shopping system that can be placed anywhere. Either outdoors without additional construction of green areas or indoors, provided that existing buildings are accessible – as at the Lunzerstraße location, where an abandoned petrol station shop was revived.


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