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Shopping in a cashierless supermarket: a pain or a gain?


Shopping in a cashierless supermarket: a pain or a gain?

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- Erica Twigt / Product Success Manager at Keephub

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Erica Twigt / Product Success Manager at Keephub

In London, Amazon has already opened 17 Amazon Fresh stores, where customers are able to shop their products and leave without having to wait in line and pay at a checkout. We see competitors like Tesco, Sainsbury and even Aldi follow Amazon’s example. Shopping in a cashierless supermarket: a pain or a gain?

No need for queuing or cash

Especially in business quarters there is a prominent increase of cashierless supermarkets. Obviously, this target group is attracted by the new checkout-free way to shop a coffee, their lunch or some ‘forgotten’ groceries.

‘Shopper Heaven’ is promised: just open your account, scan to enter at the gate, get what you want and just walk out. A couple of dozen of cameras register your every move. And afterwards, payment will automatically be done with the credit card linked to your account. How does it affect the customer experience? We checked three cashierless store concepts in London: Amazon Fresh, Tesco GetGo and Sainsbury’s Local.

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The pain... or is it a gain?

The first London Amazon Fresh we tried was the Kensington one; it was a very smooth shopping trip. When entering the shop, we overheard people leaving, talking enthusiastically about how they liked shopping at Amazon Fresh. We just had to experience for ourselves…

We, two people, checked in with one account and started shopping individually. As we were leaving the shop we were just as enthusiastic about our shopping trip as the businessmen we overheard: delicious and fresh looking pastries, nice range of products, all for grabs and ‘in and out’ the shop in less than 10 minutes. The only uncertainty remaining: “will the receipt show the right amount?”

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We know from our New York experience at Amazon Go, that the receipt will probably take a little longer. Shopping with multiple people using one account, usually means an extra visual check of the camera registration. Nothing to worry about, so far every time we tried, it resulted in a correct outcome. This time we were in for a surprise: Amazon gave us an extra reduction for our next trip to stimulate us to return to the store soon.

Comparing the customer journey

When Amazon introduced its first Amazon Go, it raised interest with the competition. And apparently, looking at the increased number of this kind of stores, it’s now time to follow the example. We checked Tesco GetGo to see if it would result in a similar experience as at Amazon Fresh.

For us, being a tourist in London and not in the possession of a Tesco account, it took some time to register. After passing the gate we entered a store with quite a large range of products and by the looks of it: the regular customers knew their way around the shop.

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At Sainsbury’s Local, however, their customers were not yet used to the new concept. Attracted by the familiar orange logo, they headed for the entrance, but made a U-turn as soon as they realised where they had ended up. Even though friendly staff promised them a checkout-free shopping trip, the customers asked for the closest, ‘normal’ Sainsbury. Apparently, they did not think of it as a big enough ‘gain’. The staff promoting the concept has quite some mission work left.

Our final verdict?

The pain arises when technology prevents you from easy access. Staff helping you out at the entrance will lower the barrier and give you the feeling of a warm welcome. But when that bridge is crossed: shopping at a cashierless store feels carefree and its efficiency gives you the feeling of saving time. So definitely a gain!

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