Property Management Trends in 2012: Part 4 – Robotic Convenience Stores


Property Management Insider is looking back at the multifamily industry trends of 2012 and how they could affect the industry in 2013.

Property owners and managers are continuously seeking new ways to attract new residents and renew others with convenience tools and the latest technologies. One automated solution that doesn’t require a user name and password began rising in popularity 2012: the robotic convenience store.

Robotic convenience stores, manufactured by Ohio-based Shop24 Global, began popping up at apartments and on college campuses this year, affording residents a convenient, competitive alternative to running to the corner store at any hour of the day or night. Installations throughout the U.S. are on the rise.

In January, Ladera Palms in Fort Worth, Tex., became the first apartment community in the nation to set up the 24-hour vending machine on steroids. Residents inside the gated community have plugged money and credit cards into the machine to purchase everything from popular spicy chips to motor oil. The stores have been so successful that Post Investment Group, Inc., which owns the property, has scheduled installs for other properties in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston.

Since the first installation, others have followed beyond Post Investment Groups’s portfolio. Lynd Co. installed machines at two of its Dallas/Fort Worth properties – Timberlinks in Denton and the Fairways of Wilson Creek in McKinney – last spring. Also, Fairstone Apartments in Taylorsville, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, installed a machine for residents in April.

A Profit-Generating Resident Amenity

Apartment managers are convinced that the stores, which took 10 years to develop at a cost of $70 million, are good for business, enabling properties to offer an amenity that creates a revenue stream at the same time.

The machine in McKinney was well received by residents, according to one property representative contacted. Manager Jackie Smith said because Timberlinks is removed from the higher-traffic areas of town that the store is a time- and gas-saver for residents. “This new amenity will help us retain our existing residents and keep a high demand for new ones.”

The stand-alone robotic convenience stores started surfacing at small colleges in New York around 2007, and the first installation about five years ago at Morrisville State College hit a milestone in June. Boosted by frozen food sales, the store reached $1 million in revenue. School officials anticipate the second installation in 2009 will hit the same mark sometime in 2013.

The University of Albany is hoping the stores will continue to be just as successful. Recently, the university became the seventh State University of New York System school to install a store. Eight others are in service across the system.

Robotic Convenience Stores Have a Bright Future

While successful on campus, the stores are still basically in beta test mode at apartment communities. A Shop24 spokesman said that the company is only working with apartments that have high foot-traffic, so the machine may not be best for just any multifamily housing property.

Nonetheless, keep an eye on the properties where items found at the corner quickie store are now being dispensed to residents a short walk from home. This interesting, new amenity in the apartment industry bears watching in 2013.

What are your thoughts on robotic convenience stores? More gimmick than useful amenity?


Robotic Convenience Store Articles on Property Management Insider



Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

One response to “Property Management Trends in 2012: Part 4 – Robotic Convenience Stores”

  1. Lanford Tobe says:

    This service vending products to tenants is wonderful. Tenants can shop for what they want wearing slippers! Single parents can leave the kids momentarily without the need for a baby sitter. I hope there are more of these.

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