The Co-op has unveiled a new mobile phone app that allows shoppers to pay for purchases in the aisle and avoid visiting a till all together.
The shop, scan and go initiative is being trialled at the Co-op’s store located at the retailer’s support centre in Manchester.
A wider rollout could begin as early as this summer after a further trial at the Co-op’s store in the Microsoft UK head office in Reading.
The grocery retailer said the new app, which has been built with Mastercard’s secure digital payments expertise, will sit alongside conventional payment methods in store – such as self-service tills and manned checkouts – to enhance consumer experience and service.
The app allows shoppers to scan products on their own mobile phone as they walk around the store.
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When they have finished shopping, the amount they owe will then be deducted from their account with a single click.
The app also links information from a customer’s Co-op membership account – telling them how much they have saved and, how much would be donated to local causes following the transaction.
The Co-op said it built the app after it noticed cash transactions in its stores dropped by more than one fifth over the last five years, with a 15 per cent reduction in the last 18 months alone.
“It is a challenging market place for retailers, and the Co-op is responding positively,” retail support director Matthew Speight said.
“Our ambition is to harness technology to deliver the shopping experience that our diverse customer-base requires – when, where and how they need it.
He added: “We recognise there are many communities where customers pop in to their local Co-op and enjoy a friendly chat – it is all part of the service.
“Whereas for others, perhaps with a train to catch or on a school run, every second can count as consumers seek increased convenience.”
The Co-op is the not the first retailer to venture into a checkout-free point of sales scheme.
Sainsbury’s is also in the process of trialling a technology that allows customers to pay for items on their phone, while Tesco has the Pay+ mobile wallet payment app.
Meanwhile, Amazon recently grabbed international headlines for opening its first cashier-less store in Seattle with plans to open six more in the coming months, while JD.com in China recently revealed plans to open hundreds of “unmanned” convenience stores.
In addition, Barclaycard is in the process of developing a mobile phone app that would allow customers to make a transaction for items by using the camera on their smartphone.
Co-op’s mobile payment app comes as it embarks on an ambitious expansion scheme. It opened 100 new stores in 2017 and plans to open another 100 in 2018 – almost a third of which will be in Greater London – and subsequently create 1600 new jobs.
The nationwide expansion programme will also see much of the Co-op’s current stores undergo a “major makeover”.
In addition, it announced a £50 million price investment programme to cut the cost of everyday essentials including fruit, vegetables, bread, fresh meat and ready meals, and household brand names.
Meanwhile, the Co-op continues to await a decision from the Competition and Markets Authority on its proposed £143 million takeover of convenience store chain Nisa.