In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting in the week that Sainsbury’s beat Amazon to the punch to opens the UK’s first till-free grocery convenience store that’s open to the public, at Holborn Circus. The move is accompanied by the launch of till-free payment in Argos Dulwich, where shoppers can complete their transaction without needing to visit a till - although tills remain available.
Sainsbury’s is clear that its grocery store is an experiment, although it does plan to roll out the service more widely once any frictions have been removed from the model. During a three-month experimental phase it will no doubt be looking hard to find out whether taking out the tills works for it in the UK market. Certainly some initial friction is to be expected: some unwary shoppers may not come equipped with smartphones, while many more are unlikely to have the app preinstalled on their phone. The retailer has catered for them through by promising to take cash and card payments at its help desk. Nonetheless, Sainsbury’s says that some 82% of shoppers in that store currently use cashless ways to pay – once the app is installed, of course, it will be no doubt be easier for shoppers to use the store than not - robust wi-fi permitting. Ultimately this has, however, the potential to be a game changer. Just as Argos’ introduction of click and collect means that shoppers now expect to be able to pick up their parcels from the store, so till-free shopping could see become an expectation amongst customers. Whether that happens will be down to how well it works.
Shopper convenience is also what M&S and Ocado are aiming at as they move closer to their joint venture partnership. M&S, after all, doesn’t yet sell most of its food products online so an online service can only boost convenience for those shoppers who want to have their orders delivered. Ocado has issued more details of the tie-up as it asks its shareholders for approval of the move. It’s striking to note that Ocado’s retail business currently operates from three customer fulfillment centres following the fire at its Andover site – and proposes to open another eight as the M&S partnership progresses. That represents a significant expansion for a business already working hard to open centres for a range of partners in the UK and beyond.
But shopper expectations are changing. If not now then very soon shoppers will expect retailers to do all they can to reduce their carbon footprint, and one obvious way for retailers to do that is through delivery. Today we report as the FTA welcomes an update on Government guidance as a potential path towards zero and low emissions delivery vans.
We also share practical insights into what customers want from personalisation. Here again, we’re looking at expectations. What do shoppers want from their messages, and how far can retailers go with personalisation. A new study from Periscope by McKinsey aims to reveal all. From our European coverage we delve into Germany’s returns experience, and hear from Patricia Alonso, ecommerce and marketing director at Spanish fashion designer and retailer Adolfo Dominguez.
Today’s guest comment comes from Grant Coleman of Emarsys who looks beyond the hype on AI to explain what real changes the technology will bring to marketing.