No queues, no checkout and no staff - just grab what you need and go.

It might sound like shoplifting, but in China "unmanned" stores are using cutting-edge technology to spark a "retail revolution".

The shops rely on apps on a customer's phone and advanced facial recognition to sell groceries without the need for any staff on the premises.

To enter one of the stores, shoppers scan a QR code at the entrance.


Once inside all they have to do is to choose and scan the item they want.

Payment is made either through WeChat pay or Alipay - two of the most popular payment methods in China.

In-store cameras use facial recognition to check for unregistered users who shouldn't be on the premises and to make sure you're only taking items you paid for.

French retail giant Auchan says it's in the process of opening several hundred unmanned stores in China this year.

Another Chinese company called Bingbox plans to open 500 staffless stores in the coming year.

In total some $10 billion will be invested in unmanned stores in China this year with potential franchise owners being told they only need four staff members to run 40 stores.

But while the cost-saving concept is big business in China, Retail New Zealand says no one is planning on bringing a fully automated store to this country.

"Retailers are typically moving to self-checkout or other forms of customer self-service," says Retail NZ's Corporate Affairs GM Greg Harford.

Harford says the self-service option here is more about "freeing up staff so they can deliver a better experience" than getting rid of staff altogether.