Tesco opens first cashless store in Central London

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Hot on the heels of Amazon opening its checkout-less full-sized grocery store, UK retailer Tesco has opened its first cashless store in central London.

The cash-free store in High Holborn has 14 till points but only two are staffed and it will only take payments from contactless cards, debit and credit cards, Apple Pay and Tesco Pay+.

It is Tesco’s second cash-free outlet – the first was opened at its head office in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

At the time, Tesco chief executive, Dave Lewis says that the new technology is a quantum leap that could be launched across the retailer’s chain. However, there are some technical issues to consider, not least whether people would simply leave the store without paying for an item.

“The technology exists to do it, but does the customer behaviour support it?” says Lewis. “If the margin is 2-3%, you don’t need to lose very much to make it unprofitable. In our stores in central London, Manchester and Birmingham, lunchtime queues are a problem. Anything we can do to speed that up will be a benefit for customers.”

Now those challenges seem, at least in part, to have been overcome.

The move marks a continuation of the checkout-less trend that was initially introduced by Amazon Go store in SeattleSainsbury’sCo-op, and Budgens in the UK and MediaMarktSaturn in Austria have also jumped on this bandwagon as they attempt to engage customers with new tech and deliver faster shopping experiences.

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