The MRKT at the Montecillo apartment community is never closed to residents – even if no one is on duty. Instead, residents of this smart-growth community on El Paso’s West Side can use a special key fob to enter the bodega and shop after hours.
The cashierless concept follows the technology innovation of vendors like Apple, Sam’s Club and Amazon Go that make it convenient for shoppers to use an app to scan their own purchases and bypass a checkout line.
The scan-and-go shopping concept is slowly catching on across the U.S., but mainly only available through major companies and generally limited to large, digitally savy cities. Amazon operates its Amazon Go convenience stores in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.
The thought of using the technology at Montecillo’s The MRKT was born after then operations manager Sammy Dominguez stumbled upon an Amazon Go video.
“We got the idea from them,” he said, explaining that it seemed like the perfect solution. “So we set up a 24/7 access system.”
The store opened June of 2018. In December they installed the system – which happened to be found on Amazon – that allows residents to shop when the store is closed.
Dominguez said The MRKT was looking for a way to be more convenient to the community despite having limited employees. A clerk is on duty only during normal business hours from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sundays the store is closed … unless you have a key fob.
Now, Montecillo community residents can sign up to have their credit card information kept on file and receive a key fob that grants them 24/7 access to store. There is no extra charge for the service.
“You learn how to charge yourself. You come, you shop, you pay,” Dominguez said. Training for the residents only takes a few minutes. “There’s really not much to it.”
The word on this key fob system is spreading among residents and being put to use.
“It’s actually saved me when I needed eggs to go with my bacon, I love it,” said Hilda Dominguez, Sammy’s mother and a resident of Bella Homes at Montecillo.
After hours there are no cash transactions. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and credit card are required for payment.