Sainsbury’s Trials Checkout-Free Grocery Store

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Sainsbury’s Trials Checkout-Free Grocery Store

“This is an experiment rather than a new format for us," said Sainsbury’s group chief digital officer Clodagh Moriarty.

Sainsbury’s is experimenting with what it says is the UK’s first checkout-free grocery store. For three months the grocer’s Holborn Circus convenience store in London will put SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go mobile technology to the test. Customer feedback from the experiment will help Sainsbury’s develop the app further before a wider rollout.

“We know our customers value their time and many want to shop as quickly as possible - technology is key to that,” said Sainsbury’s group chief digital officer Clodagh Moriarty. “This is an experiment rather than a new format for us - it hasn’t been done in the UK before and we’re really excited to understand how our customers respond to the app experience. We’ll be with our customers and colleagues all the way over the coming months, iterating continuously based on their feedback before we decide if, how and where we make this experience more widely available.”

For the three-month experiment, all customers will scan and pay for their groceries using the app which they download on their smartphone. They scan their groceries as they go around the store, pay in the app and scan a QR code before leaving which reassures them that they have paid, with no need to queue or pay at a register.

The store has been refurbished to remove the checkout area and registers. This frees up store colleagues to spend their time on the shop floor, helping customers and keeping shelves fully stocked. The store will have a helpdesk to support anyone who wishes to pay with cash or cards.

Currently, 82% of transactions in this convenience store are cashless, according to the retailer. The range of products available at the store has been tailored specifically for busy customers buying food to eat on-the-go. In addition to products that can easily and quickly be picked up, scanned and paid for, the store will also offer a self-service coffee machine for hot drinks to go. 

Sainsbury’s was the first UK supermarket to bring in-app mobile payments to customers in a grocery store – in August last year – and the technology is currently live in eight convenience stores across London.