In the news this week, grocery giant Sainsbury’s launched the UK’s first till-free supermarket. Yesterday shoppers at a busy London branch could checkout their shopping using a mobile app.
All customers will be able to scan and pay for their groceries using the SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app which is downloaded onto their smartphone. This makes shopping easier and more convenient, and Sainsbury’s are hoping the feedback is positive and they will roll the scheme out to more locations.
How does it work?
Customers download the app, scan their purchases as they pick them up around the shop, pay in the app and scan a QR code before leaving the store which reassures them that they have paid. No queues, no paying at the till, no hassle?
The checkout areas in the shop have been removed but there is a helpdesk to support anyone who still wants to pay with cash or a card. Research showed that 82% of transactions in this particular location were already cashless. The store already carried products designed for busy customers purchasing lunch or on-the-go food, making it an ideal start point for the scheme as products can be quickly selected, scanned and paid for.
Will it work?
Sainsbury’s have done their research, the 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.”
Alcohol and tobacco products are removed from sale as part of the scheme as manual age-verification checks are still regulation.
What is the future?
So where will this take us? The answer is still unknown. There are many who believe in as little as a decade, cash could be obsolete. The negatives surround financial fraud, cyber security, online attacks and the risk of sharing personal data. But with the GDPR rules and tighter data protection standards all round, consumer trust is building and opinions could change.
The Guardian reported that in 2006, 62% of all payments in the UK were made using cash, in 2016 this was 40%. UK Finance predict that by 2026 only 21% of purchases will be made with cash.
This new cashless future is even more predictable as mobile devices have risen in importance in daily life. Phones are replacing wallets and cash in terms of being essential. Long gone are the days when mobile phones were just for making calls. Smartphone technology is now the centre of many areas of day to day life, in particular personal finances.
What does this mean for businesses?
Understanding what is happening, observing and transitioning if necessary is key. By not embracing the digital cashless world, businesses are in danger of being left behind. Banks are offering incentives to small businesses to ditch cash in business operations. A digital economy is the future, by not understanding and adapting, businesses are not meeting the needs of their customers. It is possible that e-commerce will eventually be redundant and all commerce will be fully electronic. The future of money may well be a cashless world, digital currencies and mobile payments leading the way.
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