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South Korean telcos developing unmanned stores

Major South Korean telcos are looking to launch unstaffed outlets as they try to provide business services without face-to-face contact amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to the sources, SK Telecom Co, the nation’s top mobile carrier, is planning to offer unmanned services at a store in Seoul in October.

Instead of opening a new store without clerks, the company is likely to implement the system at existing stores and operate it during certain time periods, such as late at night, the sources said.

At the unmanned store, customers will be able to select pay plans and a device through kiosk machines and use their mobile service. When entering the store, customers will need biometric certification.

For those who struggle to use the store on their own, the company plans to provide a video chat with sales clerks, according to sources.

“We are reviewing our plans to set up a new type of retail channel that can meet the social needs in the era of non-face-to-face life,” a SK Telecom official said.

Other mobile carriers said they are also planning to expand unmanned services using their technologies.

LG Uplus said it will provide more kiosk machines to its stores in the second half so that customers can handle mobile services, such as changing monthly pay plans, on their own.

KT Corp said it is currently running kiosks at stores in major cities. It plans to expand stores with “contactless zones”, where customers can experience their services without sales clerks’ help.