Sainsbury’s is piloting its first checkout-free location in a convenience store in London’s Holborn Circus. The store has been refurbished to remove the checkout area entirely, with employees instead working on the shop floor.
The retailer is using its existing SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go mobile app, which is currently live in eight of its London stores. In these other locations, however, customers still have the option of making their purchase at a checkout.
While some U.S. retailers have been experimenting with various forms of cashierless checkout since 2017, the concept hasn’t really caught on in the UK. In fact, mobile self-checkout as a whole has been slow to develop, with Sainsbury’s first testing the Scan, Pay & Go app in August 2018. The technology is similar in both name and functionality to Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go cashierless checkout system.
The Sainsbury’s checkout-free experience will serve more as an experiment than the harbinger of a new store format, said Clodagh Moriarty, Chief Digital Officer at the Sainsbury’s Group in a statement. The program will last for three months, during which time Sainsbury’s will listen to customer and colleague feedback.
“We’ll be with our customers and colleagues all the way over the coming months, iterating continuously based on their feedback before we decide if, how and where we make this experience more widely available,” Moriarty said.
As shoppers walk around the store, they will scan the items they wish to buy, pay using an app and then scan a QR code to confirm that they have paid. The store caters specifically to busy customers buying breakfast or lunch and other food to eat on-the-go.
The store has installed a help desk to support shoppers who want to pay with cash or cards. Sainsbury’s said that 82% of transactions at the shop were cashless.