Blog | 30 August, 2018

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Sainsburys supermarket goes till-free

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is trialling its first “till-free” store where customers simply scan goods with a smartphone and put them straight into a bag. When they have finished shopping, their payment is processed by the phone.

The trial is currently only available in the Clapham North Sainsbury’s Local, to iPhone users who have Apple Pay set up on their device. After finishing their shopping, customers scan a QR code by the store’s exit to confirm their purchases. They are then free to leave.

This follows similar trials in the US – Amazon, for example, operated a checkout-free trial store in Seattle.

Business benefits – and challenges

This approach has many business benefits, although there are challenges to be aware of as Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, explains:

“Supermarkets are trying to take this self-service checkout process even further, by eliminating the queue for payment.

“They raise two key challenges, however, firstly around security, or shrinkage as it’s known in the press – how to stop shoplifters. Secondly around compliance, as certain items like alcohol and medicines have age and dosage-based restrictions.”

Having said that Sainsbury’s trial has undeniably fired the imagination of other supermarkets including Tesco and the Co-op. The industry is now watching to see how other supermarkets will respond – is till-free the future?