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With contactless cash alternatives available and online shopping, it has become more convenient for us to become cashless as a nation. It is apparent that in day to day life we
don’t want to have to spend our time waiting in queues to pay for our products, or it might be that we are often in a rush buying lunch during our breaks at work. To help with these
problems, a Holborn based Sainsbury’s has opened its first UK till-free store where you can ‘scan and go’ with an in-app mobile payment.

Firstly, you’re supposed to download the SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app, to your smartphone. Then you scan your groceries as you go around the store, once finished you pay in the app and scan a QR code as verification you’ve paid upon leaving. But is this as feasible as it sounds? We are a company that sells a lot of EPoS around the till lane topology. So, with that in mind our interest got the better of us and Shane Watson, our Sales Director, visited the store to see how the user journey was. Here’s what he found…

Shane’s Experience

On the journey down to the capital for the Retail Expo Show, I used the time to download the SmartShop app and try to become familiar with its features. When you create a your profile it quickly links to Apply Pay, so you won’t need to add any card details which was pretty impressive – if you have an iPhone. Upon arriving to the store, it was noticeable that there was something missing, the environment without a till was quite bland as if the EPoS lanes were accidentally forgotten, but this is just something that needs adjusting to as a shopper who hasn’t experienced anything different!

I decided to test out the app as someone who was doing a quick lunch time run and opted to buy a bottle of Diet Coke, I scanned the barcode with my camera and the product appeared in an ‘e-basket’ at the advertised price. The payment was also a quick process, as all I needed to do was use Apple Pay, the app then advised me to scan one final QR code on the way out of the store as a proof of purchase. I was only in the store for a minute and it all seems pretty impressive from a consumer point of view! Whether you view it to be a good or bad thing, this process allows you to go beyond the usual £30 contactless limit.

Potential Problems

However, my thoughts lead to other consumers who might have limitations with regards to sight, hearing and what people do if they don’t have a smartphone – or if simply your battery runs out. One member of staff actually told me that there was a ‘hidden’ till for such circumstances. As the concept rolls out, Sainsbury’s are putting these stores in a position where the target market is millennial orientated, whilst addressing their need for speed and lack of time, are they excluding other audiences? Is it as quick as it’s perceived? What happens if I want to buy a few items? The more items, the more you’re having to juggle, as you’ll be holding a phone and a basket whilst trying to scan the items at the same time.


Although we would like to think that all consumers are genuine, we must factor what losses there might be, so although there are a dozen staff there ready to help, we can almost be certain there could be a less honest consumer who seizes the opportunity to ‘scan one, pocket one’ or to not scan at all.

To conclude, it seems that Shane thought this experience is great for someone who is confident with technology and someone who is doing a small shop of 1-5 items. However, problems with the concept will occur for those with accessibility challenges, and those wanting to do a ‘big shop’ which may limit these stores to staying in larger cities as elsewhere, it might not generate much revenue. He is pretty confident that this won’t affect the EPoS sales as there are still many consumers that will have technology, situational and requirement-based challenges that this solution doesn’t yet have the answers for. For more updates on this, you can get in touch or keep an eye on our social where we are up for discussion!


PLM Global Limited
Unit 1 Harbour Road Trading Estate
BS20 7BL

Tel: 01275 406640

Email: sales@plm-global.co.uk

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