Last week, Sainsbury’s announced it is piloting Mobile Scan & Go, a scan-and-shop service, in three stores. Shoppers will be able to use their smartphones to scan products in stores, and then pay at self-service tills using cash or credit cards.
The test is symptomatic of a recent shift in the retail industry. Mobile technology – and specifically in-store mobile payments – has become a new frontier of retailing, and retailers are racing to experiment and earn the hallowed tag of ‘innovative’ and shopper friendly.
Sainsbury’s says it hopes the new service will provide a range of benefits for shoppers. Head of digital Mark Bennett says: “We think that Mobile Scan & Go will save customers time in store, especially queuing time at the till. You’ll be able to see the running total of your shop and keep track of how much you’ve saved with the offers and deals you’ve picked up.”
Self-scan services are already available at several retailers. Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s offer a fast-track service that lets customers scan products themselves as they walk around store – Sainsbury’s has it in 37 shops, while Tesco expects to have it in 100 by Christmas. Waitrose started using such technology in 1996, and its shoppers have responded particularly well to the service – scanners are now available in 178 of Waitrose’s 285 branches.
Sainsbury’s trial will move things on further, and it demonstrates the effort retailers are putting into mobile-related services. Customers won’t need to find hand-held scanners or wait for one to become free. Once they’ve used a QR code reader to ‘check in’ at the store with their phones, they can shop the store scanning items as they go on their mobile phones. The service saves the consumer time because products don’t need to be scanned through a staffed till, and should cut queues. The trial is being run in the Tadley, Clerkenwell and Bethnal Green shops.
Sainsbury’s is optimistic customers will respond well. “We’re confident that customers will be comfortable using their own mobile phones to scan items,” says Bennett. “We’ve already seen a positive response to the news of the trial on Twitter and we’re optimistic to build a strong group of customers trialling Mobile Scan & Go with us.”
WHO’S DOING WHAT MOBILE IN STORE
Sainsbury’s is piloting Mobile Scan & Go in three stores. US giant Walmart is using a similar service.
Waitrose is rolling out contactless payment to all stores by spring.
Carphone Warehouse has its own mobile payments app, powered by Simply Tap.
Arcadia says it is testing a variety of different mobile-related projects.
Aurora Fashions is using PayPal’s payment app and staff have iPads that can double up as an extra till.
Marks & Spencer has rolled out contactless payment scanners to its stores.
Fashion retailer Pretty Green uses image recognition technology to sell music via Universal Records in its stores.