Co-op channels Amazon Go as it trials pay-in-aisle technology

With so much attention on Amazon Go reinventing the grocery shopping business, Britain’s own Co-op has quietly been moving retail into the 21st Century and today unveils pay-in-aisle check out technology.

Time-pressed shoppers will soon be able to pay in the aisle and avoid visiting a till all together as they use their own phone to purchase goods at the Co-op with an innovative App built with Mastercard’s secure digital payments expertise.

The ‘shop, scan and go’ initiative is being trialled at the Co-op’s store located at the retailer’s support centre in Manchester, with a wider roll-out beginning as early as this summer which is expected to include a further trial at the Co-op’s store located in the UK HQ of Microsoft.

The innovative move, which harnesses the latest technology, allows customers to scan products on their own device as they walk around the store – known as a “frictionless shopping experience”. When they have finished shopping, the amount they owe will then be deducted from their account with a single click.

The community retailer is seeing the number of cash transactions in its stores rapidly reduce in favour of alternative payment methods. Cash transactions have dropped by more than one fifth over the last five years, with a 15% reduction in the last 18 months alone.

Matthew Speight, Director of Retail Support at the Co-op, explains: “It is a challenging market place for retailers, and the Co-op is responding positively. Our ambition is to harness technology to deliver the shopping experience that our diverse customer-base requires – when, where and how they need it.”

He continues: “It is all about consumer choices and convenience. We listen to our Members and customers and we are investing in our stores, people, prices, products and technology. We recognise there are many communities where customers pop in to their local Co-op and enjoy a friendly chat – it is all part of the service. Whereas for others, perhaps with a train to catch or on a school run, every second can count as consumers seek increased convenience.”

Elliott Goldenberg, head of digital payments at Mastercard UK adds: “Technology is bringing unprecedented change to retailing right before our eyes, however the challenge for all of us who play a part in the retail experience is meeting the needs of all consumers who are moving at different speeds in the adoption of technology.”  “With the Co-op we are bringing our online and mobile capability – Masterpass – into the physical store, and offering consumers who want a fast and frictionless buying experience, a secure and reliable way to pay. By scanning products using Co-op’s mobile app, shoppers can checkout using payment card details securely stored within Masterpass, and leave the store, with both the Co-op and them knowing they have paid.”

The technology also links information from a customer’s Co-op Membership account – telling shoppers how much they have saved and, how much the Co-op will donate to local good causes following the transaction. Members receive a 5% reward when they buy own brand products and services, with the Co-op donating a further 1% to good causes – last year the community retailer shared £20M with around 8,000 community groups.

Earlier this year the Co-op unveiled plans to open 100 new food stores in 2018. It also announced a £50million price investment programme to cut the cost of everyday essentials including fruit, vegetables, bread, fresh meat and ready meals, as well as household brand names.

The move by Co-op comes as research by Worldpay finds that spending via smartphones is accelerating, pushing mobile payments past tipping point, with more than han a half (59%) of all-in store supermarket mobile transactions worldwide have been conducted via digital wallets such as Apple Pay [IRDX RAPL], Google Pay [IRDX RGOO]and Samsung Pay, demonstrating the rise of shop-on-a-go culture.

According to the latest consumer spending data from Worldpaypubs, bars and restaurants saw a 12.5% uplift in the total spend – leading to the prediction that mobile will replace customers cards within the next five years.

Commenting on the move, James Frost, CMO of Worldpay says: “For today’s digitally driven shoppers, cash has become a relic. It’s easy to see why that’s the case, as innovations like contactless and mobile payments continue to raise the bar in terms of speed, simplicity and convenience. For consumers, being able to pay by which ever method they choose is a minimum requirement of what it means to be a modern retailer. Contactless cards have paved the way for mobile payment adoption, but there is still work to be done before mobile “tap and go” becomes ubiquitous. We know that three-quarters of consumers still prefer plastic when it comes to making a contactless payment, which may stem from our reliance on a physical wallet for other aspects of the checkout process, such as collecting loyalty points, or showing ID.”

IMAGE: mastercard/Co-op

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