SandStar's Unmanned Store: A Digital Tool to Capture Post-COVID Opportunities


​​If a smart vending machine is “the smallest retail unit,” then an unmanned store would be a system combining various unmanned retail technologies together or an ultimate weapon that can help retailers digitize their stores.

SandStar deployed its first unmanned store in Hainan two years ago. Today, the solution has been adopted in various places including UAE and Germany. Members of the company’s founding team have over 10 years of retail experience on average. Led by them, the company’s unmanned store solution is becoming increasingly viable, making SandStar a renowned supplier of unmanned retail solutions in the world.


The world’s first pure vision unmanned store

At the beginning of 2018, SandStar’s first unmanned store was successfully deployed within the HNA Building in Haikou. The unmanned store jointly deployed with CCOOP, the namesake key brand of a listed company of the Hainan Airlines Group (HNA), is also the world’s first unmanned store based on pure vision recognition.

In comparison, Amazon Go uses “100-plus cameras + sensors”, and the cost is prohibitively high; SandStar adopts dynamic computer vision recognition as the key technology for its system, which costs only 1/20 of Amazon Go.   

Based on dynamic computer vision recognition and advanced action semantic recognition, the cameras in an unmanned store of SandStar can accurately recognize a customer’s identity and trajectory, as well as all of his/her shopping behaviors including how he/she takes an item and puts it back, and the system can also automatically generate a bill and activate the payment process after the customer has left. There is no need to use traditional technologies like RFID tags and sensors, so the cost of building a smart unmanned store is dramatically reduced.   

When it comes to the recognition technology, SandStar combines dynamic computer vision recognition and advanced action semantic recognition together, so the system supports the scenario of multiple people shopping at the same time. This means that even if there are multiple people shopping at the same time, the system still can accurately recognize them.

SandStar acts on CSR initiatives - the solution is carefully designed to protect customer privacy. The camera involved only captures products and shopping behavior by marking the key point of the human skeleton. Additionally, since the system is based on self-learning, all data processing is done automatically by the system itself.

When it comes to the implementation efficiency, SandStar’s unmanned store is even better compared to the solutions of other brands. A person in charge of unmanned store products at SandStar said: “It takes us only two weeks on average to build an unmanned store equivalent to a medium-sized convenience store from data collection to field deployment, and our unmanned store also supports a multilingual environment.”


SandStar is results-driven when it comes to technology and business

SandStar is clear at the very beginning when designing and developing all the functions for its unmanned store: to help retailers get a higher ROI with a lower cost. The powerful data collection and analysis capability of an unmanned store as a pure digital store is the tool and weapon needed to obtain a high ROI.

All operators of traditional stores know that, if a store wants to keep growing its sales, it must rely on a series of business decisions about merchandise mix, pricing, display, etc.   

In the past, to come up with a “good” business strategy, merchants could only rely on their experience and ambiguous perception. Today, when it comes to the operation of an unmanned store as a digital store, they can rely on data to optimize their merchandise mix, pricing and display strategies, so that they can win at the starting line.

All the data collected by various modules of SandStar’s unmanned store, including the heat map of areas generated based on the duration that customers stay in specific areas, the merchandise popularity report generated based on the number of times specific items are picked up from shelves and put back to shelves, and the merchandise browsing report generated by monitoring customer behaviors can help retailers better understand the patterns of their store’s operation to gain more insights into customer behaviors and to optimize their merchandise mix, pricing and display strategies based on those insights.

In addition, SandStar’s unmanned store also has various functional modules for targeted marketing, such as the function of customized push advertising. With this, you can push specific ads to people passing through your advertising screen based on things unique to them. For example, when a woman passes through your advertising screen, a new ad about a skin care product will be played on the screen, and when a man passes through it a little while later, an ad promoting a shaving product will be played on the screen.

The data-enabled decision-making and the promotion of conversion by targeted marketing are the two things that SandStar’s unmanned store uses to help retailers increase sales.     

The feedback from a Japanese convenience store operator, which is a customer of SandStar, shows that optimizing merchandise mix and pricing can help the store increase profit by at least 20 percent.

We are already halfway through 2020. After going through the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year, more and more suppliers and investors are now looking at unmanned retail for its safety and cutting-edge technology.

SandStar is a company that thrives in combining cutting-edge technologies and business scenarios. When it comes to the design philosophy that goes beyond technology, what the company always emphasizes is that it is focused on helping retailers get a higher ROI with a lower cost.

In the future, SandStar will rely on its abundant retail customer resources as well as its project experience in 12 countries and regions around the globe to let its unmanned store solution empower more retailers and to lead the digital transformation of the global retail industry.

About SandStar

SandStar is an artificial intelligence company that provides leading computer vision technology for the retail industry. The advanced retail solutions engage shoppers like never before with grab-and-go convenience, autonomous checkout, and big data analytics, serving businesses worldwide. Founded in 2016, SandStar now has over 220 engineers. The company provides Smart Kiosks, Pure Computer Vision Smart Shops, and Smart Store Analytics. Dual-headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., and Beijing, SandStar serves 20+ Fortune 500 companies and strives to build an AI retail ecosystem. SandStar is a qualified Intel® IoT Market Ready Solution (Intel® IMRS) partner and Microsoft Co-Sell partner, supported by a number of leading venture capital investors after four rounds of funding, including CP Group, one of the world's largest conglomerates. Check out more on

Source: SandStar