- The Co-op, a British community grocer, partnered with Mastercard to let shoppers scan and buy products in the aisle without having to visit a traditional register, according to a blog post by the retailer.
- Customers can scan their items through their smartphone camera and the Co-op app — developed with Mastercard — as they shop, and the total basket amount will be deducted from their account with one click before they exit the store. The payment tech will link to stored information from a customer's Co-op membership account, telling them how much they saved and the portion of their bill the Co-op will donate to charity.
- The mobile feature will be offered alongside other payment methods, including self-service and traditional manned checkouts. The Co-op is internally testing the service at its support center in Manchester, England, before a public trial run at its Reading location.
Consumers often identify the checkout experience as being the most inconvenient and unenjoyable part of the shopping process, leading many grocers and retailers to adopt alternatives, such as self-checkout, scan-and-go and mobile checkout features. The Co-op's initial tests of cashierless checkouts follows the experiment by e-commerce giant Amazon with its automated grocery store in Seattle that opened in January. Amazon plans to open as many as six more stores this year, signaling the potential growth of this convenient shopping experience.
The fine-tuning of cashierless stores will continue to evolve, especially as retailers seek to avoid shrinkage while providing customers with more convenience and reducing cashier headcount. The Co-op found that its customers are becoming less dependent on cash payments as they adopt electronic methods, pointing to an opportunity to leverage technology to ease the shopping experience. Cash transactions have dropped by more than one-fifth in the past five years, with a 15% reduction in the last 18 months, per the retailer's blog post.
Not to be outdone, Walmart in January announced it would expand a trial of its Scan & Go app to another 100 stores in the U.S. The service lets shoppers scan the barcodes on products using a dedicated mobile app, similar to the Co-op's latest feature. The app lets customers pay and walk out of the store after showing their digital receipt to an employee. Walmart originally tested the technology in 2014, but consumers struggled to use the service. As more consumers become increasingly comfortable with mobile payments and nontraditional checkout options, the "store of the future" model by grocers and retailers may see major growth in the years to come, with its added convenience and friction-free experience.