Tesco trials checkout-free payment similar to rival Amazon’s Go service where you pay with an app


Britain’s biggest retailer is trialling a checkout-free method of payment for its convenience stores, to rival Amazon’s Go service available in the US.

Tesco will let customers scan products on their mobile devices, pay for them with an app and then walk out with them.

If successful, the trial could be rolled out to stores across the UK in the near future – provided the obvious security challenges can be overcome.

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Britain's biggest retailer is trialling a checkout-free method of payment  to rival Amazon's Go service. Tesco will let customers scan products on their mobile devices, pay for them with an app and then walk out with them. This image shows a staff member testing the system

Britain’s biggest retailer is trialling a checkout-free method of payment to rival Amazon’s Go service. Tesco will let customers scan products on their mobile devices, pay for them with an app and then walk out with them. This image shows a staff member testing the system

The supermarket group is testing the smartphone app at the Tesco Express convenience store located in the campus of its headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, north of London.

The smartphones of 100 staff at the purpose-built test site can now scan barcodes and pay for their shopping using an app called Scan Pay Go.

‘Using your mobile device you select some products, put them into your basket on your device and then just walk out of the store,’ Steven Blair, Tesco’s convenience transformation director told reporters.

‘The feedback is very good on it but it’s super early.

Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis said although the Welwyn trial could be implemented more widely, security implications had to be considered as there was a danger of increased product theft.

‘If the margin in the business is two or three per cent, you don’t have to lose much to make it unprofitable,’ he said.

The Welwyn store is also cashless, cutting the time spent on customer transactions.

Mr Blair said the store was serving customers at its checkouts in about 45 seconds, versus 90 seconds for a similar sized store in the estate.

He noted that some Tesco convenience stores in Britain were already down to just 20 per cent of payments by cash, making a cashless roll-out likely in the future.

The supermarket group is testing the smartphone app at the Tesco Express convenience store located in the campus of its headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, north of London. If successful, the trial could be rolled out to stores across the UK in the near future (stock image) 

The supermarket group is testing the smartphone app at the Tesco Express convenience store located in the campus of its headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, north of London. If successful, the trial could be rolled out to stores across the UK in the near future (stock image) 

US retailer Amazon opened a checkout-free grocery store in Seattle to the public in January, moving forward on an experiment began in December 2016 that could dramatically alter bricks-and-mortar retail.

The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. 

Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous – customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

This is not the first time that reports of Tesco attempting to emulate the retail experience have emerged.

In October last year, CEO Mr Lewis, confirmed that the firm was testing Amazon Go-style checkout-free supermarkets. 

It was unclear how long the trial had been running, and in which stores, but Mr Lewis added that Tesco has been ‘doing it for a while.’

Speaking at a press conference at the time, he said:’ When we’re at a place where we’ve got something we want to launch to all customers, we’ll launch it and we’ll communicate it. 

HOW DO AMAZON’S GO STORES WORK?

In December 2016, Amazon unveiled a convenience store in downtown Seattle that replaced cashiers with technology found in self-driving cars.

It opened to the public in January 2018.

To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.

Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter.

Deeper into the store, shoppers can find a small selection of grocery items, including meats and meal kits.

An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.

Amazon's first Go Store opened in Seattle earlier this year and are looking to expand and open stores in Chicago and San Francisco  

Amazon’s first Go Store opened in Seattle earlier this year and are looking to expand and open stores in Chicago and San Francisco  

Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.

If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged.

If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.

Much of the store will feel familiar to shoppers, aside from the check-out process.

Amazon, famous for dynamic pricing online, has printed price tags just as traditional brick-and-mortar stores do.



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