Smartshop Holborn Circus Web

Sainsbury’s launches checkout-free store in central London

Image credit: sainsburys

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's is launching a checkout-free store with Amazon that will allow customers to pick up items and leave while being charged automatically.

Amazon started experimenting with the concept in 2016 when it opened its first “Amazon Go” branch in Seattle which used what has been dubbed 'Just Walk Out' technology.

It relies on an accompanying app, which has to be used to enter the store, that tracks whether products are removed from, or returned to, the shelves.

Amazon used the same types of technologies found in self-driving cars, such as computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to make the concept work.

Last year, it announced it would open up its technology platform to other retailers who want to trial the technology.

Sainsbury’s will now put it to use in a convenience store at Holborn Circus. Customers will need to scan a QR code when entering using their SmartShop app, which is linked to a credit or debit card.

Just Walk Out technology automatically adds anything the customer takes off the shelf to their virtual cart and removes anything they put back on the shelf. The customer leaves the store by scanning the QR code to exit through the store’s automatic gates.

Their linked card will be charged for the items they pick and customers will receive a receipt via email when they have left the store.

Sainsbury’s said it would keep employees on the site to assist customers and keep shelves stocked up. The Holborn store was selected to use Just Walk Out technology as it is primarily focused on offering quick food and drink options to local workers who want to complete their shopping as rapidly as possible.

The new store will be on the site of Sainsbury’s first till-free store, which it opened in 2019.

However, the supermarket group ended the trial months later after complaints from shoppers who found the shopping experience difficult.

The UK’s second largest grocer said it has seen a recent surge in popularity for its SmartShop app, which has seen sales numbers increase by 173 per cent year-on-year.

Clo Moriarty, Sainsbury’s digital director, said: “We are always looking at new ways to make shopping easy and convenient for our customers.”

Dilip Kumar, a VP with Amazon, said: “We’re excited to bring Just Walk Out technology to our first customer internationally with Sainsbury’s. With no tills, no checkout lanes, and no self-service scanners, we can’t wait to hear how busy Londoners enjoy the experience.”

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