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Two ways Sainsbury’s is using mobile technology to help customers avoid queuing in its shops

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Sainsbury’s is testing out a new virtual queueing system for shoppers as they wait to get into its stores under social distancing guidelines. It will be the first UK retailer to trial the ufirst app, which it will deploy at five branches in London, Leicester and Watford. 

Meanwhile, it is also to expand use of its SmartShop mobile app, which is now used by more than a million customers and accounts for more than half of the sales in some of its supermarkets.

Queuing app 

Shoppers queueing to get into a supermarket will be able to reserve their virtual spot in the line via the ufirst app from as far away as their home or a coffee shop.

The supermarket, ranked Leading in RXUK Top500 research, is to start trialling the app from Monday at branches in Uxbridge, Pimlico, Newham Royal Wharf in greater London and at Leicester Wharf and Watford Dome Roundabout. 

Payment app

Elsewhere, Sainsbury’s continues to expand the number of shops where customers can use its own SmartShop Mobile Pay app. At the moment it is available in more than 100 Sainsbury’s Local shops with 40 more being added this week alone. Sainsbury’s says that more than a million customers a week are now using SmartShop and that the app accounts for more than half of sales in some supermarkets. Shoppers use the app to scan their shopping, which they can pack as they put it into their basket or trolley. They then pay via the app at a designated till point without needing to queue for a regular till. 

Nigel Blunt, director of ecommerce at Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re always on the lookout for how we can make our customers’ lives easier using technology. We’re trialling a virtual queuing system which enables shoppers to hold their place in the queue using their smartphone and we will be listening closely to feedback from our customers and colleagues.”

“We’re also rolling out SmartShop Mobile Pay to even more convenience stores, offering customers fast and contactless shopping that will help them get in and out of the store even quicker.”

Sainsbury’s first trialled till-free shopping in 2018 and then experimented with a totally till-free convenience store in 2019. While it has since moved away from the idea of the entirely till-free store because some shoppers wanted the ability to use cash, it has steadily expanded the use of its SmartShop app over the last year. 

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