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Well, not the latter – but it’s fair to say that when it came to the demise of the Sainsbury’s till-less store, we did see it coming.

Last month Sainsbury’s ended the 5-month trial of their till-less store in Holborn, London. The retailer concluded that “not all shoppers are ready” for this level of technology and the removal of any human intervention.

It’s a pat on the back for them in making a quick decision on this and for trialling in the first place. All too often new ideas get rolled out before they’ve been fully tested or proved their worth. In this case Sainsbury’s did exactly what they set out to do and that was to find out if there was an appetite for till-free shopping, rather than simply prove that they had a lead over the competition. What’s more, they listened carefully to feedback and showed that they actually cared about what their customers wanted.

Back in June, our Sales Director, Shane Watson, visited the store and tested out the till- less experience for himself. Whilst, as an EPoS expert, Shane wouldn’t like to see tills disappear completely, he did enter into his ‘trial’ with a totally open mind. What were his findings? Well, he felt like the store was lacking in atmosphere; that the empty space where the checkouts would have been felt a little strange, and that there seemed to be a significant number of shoppers queueing for assistance (ironically, as the technology was designed to remove the need to wait in lines!).

With the trial now over, Sainsbury’s have added a manned till and two, more familiar self- checkout tills at Holborn. The latter will still allow customers to make mobile payments – the one thing which was a popular feature of the till-less set up. In fact, this is something which they have now gone on to add to eight other stores across the UK and could roll out to many more in the near future.

As specialist providers of EPoS equipment – but more importantly as experienced providers of advice and guidance on EPoS options – we understand the importance of considering absolutely everything before committing to major change. Whilst till-less technology may appeal to those who are accustomed to using their mobiles to pay, there are others for whom this is inaccessible. Those with sight or hearing impairments, for example, could find the process relatively daunting, as could those who are less confident with tech – or simply don’t have a smartphone!

The risk in moving the retail space away from human interaction is the exclusion of others. In this case it appeared that at least some of the frustrated customers waited for assistance with their purchase, but this level of patience is seldom guaranteed. If the consumer finds the shopping experience unpleasant or difficult, they will go elsewhere and utilise a more familiar route to purchase. Those who ‘vote with their feet’ may outnumber those for whom till-less shopping is a quick and easy process. Of course, we haven’t even touched upon the security aspects of the ‘light -touch’ system which may just be too tempting for those looking to avoid making any kind of payment at all…

Following his visit to the Sainsbury’s store, Shane came to the overall conclusion that there was still a place for EPoS within the retail environment in the long term. Yes, there will be a constant push to incorporate new technology in a bid to improve the shopper experience, but any such improvements will have to offer benefits for everyone, not just the tech-savvy Millennials.

At PLM our solutions are based on choice. In understanding exactly what a client is hoping to achieve we can offer options based on our market-leading experience and broad product knowledge.

If you would like utilise the very best in EPoS products and technology, get in touch today via https://www.plm-global.co.uk/contact/


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