Sainsbury‘s has begun testing on checkout-less technology which allows customers to pay for goods using their mobile phone.
The grocer initiated testing of the new technology in its Euston Station branch earlier this month, seeing time-strapped commuters scan items with their phone, paying for them automatically then leaving the store without having to queue.
“We are always looking for new ways to help our customers live well – and saving customers time is one way we can do so,” Sainsbury‘s head of customer experience Natalie Dunn said.
“Experimenting with a checkout-free experience is a first for Sainsbury‘s and 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 are very excited to have taken this first step.”
The technology follows similar developments by Amazon, which announced plans to introduce checkout-less stores across a new physical retail estate.
They have been testing the technology in Seattle, where Amazon shoppers’ “virtual baskets” are tracked by sensors and payment is deducted automatically when they leave the store.
According to shopworkers‘ union Usdaw this technology threatens to undermine Sainsbury‘s retail workforce.
“We know that many customers really value one to one personal interaction they receive from shop workers and there has been research showing that often it is quicker to go through a staffed checkout,” a spokesman for the group said.
“Reduced staffing can cause customer frustration and it is generally shop workers who bear the brunt of any resulting abuse.”
Feedback from the initial testing has reportedly been positive, but Sainsbury‘s has not yet set a timeframe for when it could roll out the technology more widely.
The Sainsbury‘s “SmartShop” app in which customers can scan items with their phone and pay at the checkout is already available, and will reportedly be extended to 50 stores by the end of the year.