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Fishy Business: RFID Automates Seafood Outlets

Sweden's Laxbutiken takes dining self-service to a new level at its LAXoMAT food stores.
By John Edwards
Mar 21, 2011—If you visit any of the four LAXoMAT food shops located within an hour's drive of Heberg, in southwestern Sweden, you'll see plenty of fish, but not that many people. In fact, it's possible you may be the only person inside the self-serve store. That's because each LAXoMAT outlet is fully automated with radio frequency identification technology, so there are no greeters, sales clerks or stock crew to get between you and your food.

The LAXoMAT concept was developed by Laxbutiken, a family-run seafood restaurant chain and food-service firm based in Heberg, and Effective Shop Charge Systems (ESCS), the company's retail automation affiliate, headquartered in Falkenberg, Sweden. Niklas Hild, a sales and marketing consultant to Laxbutiken and ESCS, says the automated stores arose out of Laxbutiken's desire to generate sales during the hours its restaurants, located along a busy tourist route, were closed.

A customer gains entry to the shop by swiping a major credit card at the door.

"Tourist buses from places like Germany would stop by the restaurants late in the day, and the people couldn't buy anything because the restaurants were closed," Hild explains. "Whatever closing hour the restaurants had, it seemed there was always a bus arriving 15 minutes later."

While 24-7 restaurant service was not a financially viable option, Laxibutiken realized it could serve hungry tourists, while also capturing otherwise lost sales, by creating a self-service food store offering a variety of ready-to-eat specialty dishes. "Laxbutiken got the idea, let people help themselves," Hild says. Besides tourists, the shops also cater to police, firefighters, ambulance drivers and other local shift workers. "They come back over and over, because they know that even at 11 at night, they can walk in and buy a plate of salmon and go back to their office and have their dinner. The alternative for many people is a sausage at a petrol station."
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