Sainsbury's opens UK's first checkout-free grocery store

Date : 29 April 2019

Sainsbury's has upgraded its Holborn Circus Local store to make it the UK's first checkout-free grocery store.

Payment technologies brought together

The experiment will allow Sainsbury's to test its SmartShop and Scan, Pay & Go technology in a bespoke food-to-go store, in a move designed to make grocery shopping quicker and more convenient. Customer and colleague feedback from the initiative over the next three months will help Sainsbury's develop the SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app further before being rolled out more widely.

While other retailers, notably Tesco and Co-op have opened stores that allow payment with a smartphone, this Sainsbury's store is unique in that it does not offer checkouts as an alternative way to pay (though it does have a helpdesk to support anyone who wishes to pay with cash or cards). Currently, 82% of transactions at the store are cashless.

All payments via app

At Holborn Circus, all customers will scan and pay for their groceries using the SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app. They will scan their groceries as they go round the store, pay in the app and scan a QR code before leaving, with no need to queue or pay at a till. The store experiment builds on the success of Sainsbury's SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app.

Sainsbury's was the first UK grocer to bring in-app mobile payments to customers in-store - in August 2018 - and the technology is currently live in eight convenience stores across London.

Food-to-go focus

The range of products available at the store has been tailored specifically for busy customers buying breakfast or lunch and other food to eat on-the-go. In addition to ready-to-eat products, including drinks, snacks, breakfast pots, freshly baked pastries and sandwiches that can easily and quickly be picked up, scanned and paid for, the store will also offer a self-service coffee machine for hot drinks to go. The removal of the checkout has allowed Sainsbury's to refurbish the store and will free up store colleagues to spend time on the shop floor, helping customers and keeping shelves fully stocked.

Retail Analysis subscribers can read our report from when the store opened in 2015 by clicking here.

Experiment rather than new format

Sainsbury's Group Chief Digital Officer, Clodagh Moriarty said "We know our customers value their time and many want to shop as quickly as possible - technology is key to that. This is an experiment rather than a new format for us - it hasn't been done in the UK before and we're really excited to understand how our customers respond to the app experience. We'll be with our customers and colleagues all the way over the coming months, iterating continuously based on their feedback before we decide if, how and where we make this experience more widely available."

Sainsbury's will report its annual 2018/19 results on Wednesday May 1st.

Retail Analysis subscribers can find out more on recent developments in payment technology by reading our insight presentation Convenience stores are going cashless.

IGD Sainsbury's Trade Briefing 2019

27 June, London

Hear from Group CEO, Mike Coupe and the Sainsbury's and Argos leadership teams, who will provide a business and commercial update on "Destination Sainsbury's".

Find out more