In the last month, a series of unmanned ‘trust shops’ have opened in Bengaluru, without any shopkeepers, cash machines or camera surveillance. They run on good faith, with the customers free to pay what they like.
Started by food company iD Fresh Foods, the ‘shops’ are actually a series of unlocked refrigerators offering preservative-free Indian foods such as idli and dosa batter, and breads such as chapatis and parottas. Customers can pick up products and deposit the money at the cash box placed in the front, or pay in installments, if they’re not carrying enough cash in hand.
“It’s been ten years since we started iD Foods. We have a million consumers, who trust us by serving our products to their family,” Dinesh Kumar S, the company’s marketing head, told Mashable. “Money is incidental. This is a celebration of that trust.”
So does it work? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. While the project met with skepticism initially, most apartments see 90% payments on a daily basis, with some days even exceeding 100%.
There are already 17 iD trust shops in Bengaluru as of now, with more being planned for the cities of Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Most shops have been opened in housing complexes and offices till now, but the company plans to start a few in schools, colleges and hospitals, to instill the value of trust among students.
Kumar says the company’s inspiration comes from Indian stories, such as that of a Maharashtra village where the houses have no doors. Instead of patenting the idea, iD Foods has kept it open-source and is happy to collaborate with other brands to develop the kiosks into SOS shops, where people can pick up anything they need urgently.
“We had faith that people would hold up their end of the deal,” Kumar says. “The idea is not transactional, but larger than life.”