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Sainsbury’s: trialling check-out free shopping

The headlines garnered by Amazon’s Go store, especially the ability to just grab and go without queuing up to pay, have had a profound impact on retailers. Of all the technologically advanced stuff that Amazon’s pilot store can do, many high street retailers realise they can do something similar with the technology they already have.

We’ve therefore seen a spate of ‘scan and go’ shopping trials across the retail sector – the latest of which is to be found in Sainsbury’s.

As part of plans to radically overhaul its app, the supermarket – recently linked to a £10bn merger with Asda – is planning to give its shoppers the ability to use the app in-store to scan and leave.

The smartphone app is still a work in progress but was previously trialled at Sainsbury’s London Euston station store with a single range – the supermarket’s £3 ‘on the go’ meal-deal of a sandwich or salad, side and a drink. Consumers involved in the experiment were asked to download the app to their smartphones then scan their three items of choice from the meal-deal incentive, before paying within the app itself and walking out the bricks-and-mortar store past the checkout rather than through it.

“We are always looking for new ways to help our customers live well – and saving them time is one way we can do so,” says Natalie Dunn, Sainsbury’s head of customer experience. “Experimenting with a checkout-free experience is a first for Sainsbury’s and for many of our customers, so we are keen to understand how we can take the concept and develop an offering that is genuinely useful for those who shop with us. We may be some way off from rolling this out but we’re excited to have taken the first step.”

The move ties in with Sainsbury’s belief that its customers like going to the store – so if technology can continue to enhance that experience, they’ll stick with it.

“At present, we’re 30% online but we believe that shoppers want to go in and shop in the physical stores,” says Simon Roberts, retail and operations manager at Sainsbury’s.

The SmartShop programme linked to the app will be seen over the summer in stores in London and will be in 50 other stores by the end of the year, says Roberts.

The scan and go trial sees Sainsbury’s join the Co-op and – perhaps surprisingly – Budgens, in becoming among the first to go ‘Amazon Go Lite’ with existing tech.

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

Meanwhile, Budgens has turned the sleepy Cotswolds into a hotbed of smart shopping, with the roll-out of a shopping app that not only allows shoppers to scan, pay and go, but which also will tie their shopping list to the phone’s GPS and will guide shoppers around the store along the most efficient route.

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