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CITYBOX has its eye on the next-generation smart vending machine

CITYBOX, a Shanghai-based smart vending machine operator, closed a Series B+ round with of over USD 100 million in funding from an international retail company on May 14th.

The company’s smart vending machine, which resembles a household refrigerator, is likewise named CITYBOX. By simply scanning the QR code of the machine with a mobile phone, customers can open the door and choose items they wish to purchase. When customers finish their selection and close the door, the bill will be automatically paid and sent to their mobile devices.

Founded in 2016 by Wang Qiang, co-founder of FruitDay (Tiantian Guoyuan), and Shen Bowei, CITYBOX has raised USD 40 million in financing to date. This recent round of funding has scaled the startup’s valuation up to more than USD 100 million.

CITYBOX plans to use the funds to expand to more compounds and develop its next-generation smart vending machine, as well as increase productivity. An estimated 50,000 vending machines will be put into use in 2018.

The CITYBOX vending machine features an effective intelligent security system that prevents burglary as well as a system that tracks users’ behavior. With the strategic cooperation of CityShop and FruitDay, the company has created a well-developed supply chain to maintain operation. For future development, the company welcomes cooperation with other brands and plans to offer different items in the machine according to specific locations (e.g. the gym or office).

The year 2017 witnessed a boost in the unmanned retail business. However, the craze cooled down quickly as unmanned convenience stores and unmanned smart shelves began encountering obstacles. Companies who led the trend such as Bianlifeng are said to now be transitioning to the smart vending machine business, which is widely seen as the most feasible model in unmanned retail. Aside from CITYBOX, other new startups such as StartDT and Mayihezi have flooded the market.

(Top photo from CITYBOX)

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