Tesco is the latest retailer to trial checkout-free mobile payment, allowing customers to scan products on their mobile devices and then walk out with them.
The UK’s biggest retailer is testing the technology in a Tesco Express convenience store at its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, Reuters reports.
Tesco employees taking part in the trial use a smartphone app to scan barcodes on the products they want and then pay, without having to visit a till.
“Using your mobile device you select some products, put them into your basket on your device and then just walk out of the store,” said Steven Blair, Tesco’s convenience transformation director.
Blair stressed however that although the feedback so far has been “very good”, the experiment is still at an early stage.
Amongst other things, the company is weighing up the security implications as there is a risk of increased product theft in checkout-free stores.
“If the margin in the business is 2 or 3%, you don’t have to lose much to make it unprofitable,” Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis explained.
Co-op is also trialling mobile-based “pay in aisle” technology in a store located at its support centre in Manchester, with plans to expand the tests over the summer.
Tesco’s Welwyn store is already cashless, which has reduced the average time spent at the checkout to 45 seconds.
According to the retailer, shoppers at similar-sized stores that accept cash take an average of 90 seconds at the checkout.
Blair noted that some Tesco convenience stores are already down to just 20% of payments made in cash, making it likely that we will see cashless stores in the future.
Will those stores also offer checkout-free mobile payment? Watch this space.