Sainsbury's uses smart tech to launch till-free shopping initiative

North Clapham store is first to offer service to iPhone users with Apple Pay

Woman using Sainsbury's SmartShop app to scan and pay for groceries

Sainsbury's is trialling a scan, pay and go service that gives shoppers the option to pick up their groceries and skip the checkout.

The Clapham North Local store is the first in the UK to enable shoppers to use the SmartShop app to pay for their shop anywhere in the store, rather than having to head to a till to complete their transaction as users of the app have to currently.

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SmartShop is already in use across 68 Sainsbury's stores, but the ability for iPhone users to use Apple Pay from anywhere in the store is a first and follows limited lunchtime trials at one of the supermarket's Euston station convenience stores. 

"Technology and changing customer shopping habits have transformed the way people buy their groceries," said Sainsbury's chief digital officer, Clodagh Moriarty.

"Our teams are constantly working hard to bring new convenient shopping experiences to customers and we're delighted to be the first grocery retailer in the UK to offer customers the ability to shop checkout-free. The latest version of SmartShop, with its new payment feature, will make it super quick for customers to get in and out of the store for those that want to scan, pay and go."

Sainsbury's said that its SmartShop app is growing in popularity with over 100,000 SmartShop transactions and between 3,000 and 4,000 new customer registrations every week. And analyst firm Juniper Research predicts that in-store contactless payments could reach $2 trillion by 2020, counting for one-in-three in-store transactions.

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Cas Paton, the managing director of OnBuy.com, praised the supermarket for adopting new technology but stressed the service was more likely to stay within its local stores. 

"For a major retailer such as Sainsbury's to try something innovative, such as the new scan, pay and go technology, they should be applauded," he said. "It gives consumers more control over the quality of their shopping experience and the opportunity to eradicate common in-store nuisances such as queues and human-error.

"Predicting the future adoption rate of the technology, I firmly believe it has better scope for smaller convenient store-types rather than big supermarket units. Especially because those typically using smaller convenient store-types are usually 'on the go' and know what they want before going in, thus will appreciate the efficiency and functionality of the technology fitting more in line with their shopping habits".

The Clapham store will still have both self-service and human-operated checkouts for customers who might prefer to pay at a till and Sainsbury's will use customer feedback from the trial to develop and improve the experience before testing the technology in different stores and locations.

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Sainsbury's may be the first UK retailer to offer a scan and go service, but it is not the first globally after Amazon Go launched in Seattle last month. The company became the first retailer to do away with physical checkout processes with its advanced machine learning service that automatically detects which items shoppers have picked up. The companion app takes payment as the customer leaves the physical store.

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