It is a mobile supermarket that eliminates the need to go to the grocery store. Imagine a c-store that's a driver-less, unstaffed tractor-trailer, that you can just order to come to your door like Uber or Lyft. Moby Mart doesn't have cashiers or checkouts. Members scan their purchases off the shelf with their mobile device, pay with the app and just walk out.
Moby Mart's future plans include holographic store clerks who can offer personalized assistance as you shop, similar to what Phil’s Supermarket in Second Life suggested years ago. Moby Marts will be electric and solar-powered, and will even include built-in air scrubbers so that the store purifies the air anywhere it goes.
For those technophobes – watch out. A fleet of microdrones atop the vehicle makes door-to-door deliveries — or, as the company says, maybe even door-to-window delivery if you live or work on the 12th floor of a building. To put your mind at ease, when there are multiple Moby Marts deployed in a specific area, the Moby Marts will actually communicate with one another, trading off items as needed – an interesting build on the UPS model for delivery.
It’s closer than you may think: A prototype Moby Mart is already up and running in Shanghai. It's a collaborative effort between Hefei University, in China, and the Switzerland-based company Wheelys, which specializes in mobile retail solutions.
Moby Mart is just part of a larger initiative to fundamentally change the nature of retail, according to Per Cromwell, lead designer for the project. He was quoted as saying: "Stores needs to be more flexible to meet the demands of the future. Rents will go up in prime locations; margins will go down on a lot of products due to online retail. Stores need to become more efficient. Mobile and staffless is, to date, the most flexible and efficient solution. When online and offline merge, a new kind of store is needed."