PLM Global predicted the downfall of till-less Sainsbury’s store

PLM Global predicted the downfall of till-less Sainsbury’s store

The verdict is in on Sainsbury’s till-less supermarket after they launched a three-month experiment in its Holborn store, and just like PLM Global Sales Director Shane Watson, the jury was not convinced. 

The till-less shopping experience was introduced last year by Sainsbury’s as a solution to tackle lengthy queuing time. Shoppers at the Holborn Store found themselves having to download an app and scan their own items from the shelves to pay via Apple Pay, with the idea being they could then simply walk out the store, avoiding the till process altogether. However, this theory backfired with longer queues and hold-ups recorded at the helpdesk, as people continued to try and pay for their groceries in the traditional way or struggled with technical issues.

Sainsbury’s commented:

"It's clear that not all our customers are ready for a totally till-free store", and that they had learned "a huge amount" from the experiment."

PLM Global Sales Director, Shane Watson who visited the store back in June 2019 as a customer to put the till-less experience to the test noted at the time a number of potential problems – some glaringly obvious, such as what if your smartphone runs-out of battery? Other challenges with the till-less concept noted by Shane back in June were that, whilst technology may appeal to those accustomed to using their mobiles to pay, there are others who are not, and this type of shopping experience only excludes them. Another type of exclusion Sainsbury’s failed to take into account was by way of considering its customers with sight or hearing impairments, who may find the process daunting or hindering.

Shane commented at the time of the experiment:

“If the consumer finds the shopping experience unpleasant or difficult, they will go elsewhere and utilise a more familiar route to purchase. Those who ‘vote with their feet’ may outnumber those for whom till-less shopping is a quick and easy process.

"Yes, there will be a constant push to incorporate new technology in a bid to improve the shopper experience, but any such improvements will have to offer benefits for everyone, not just the tech-savvy Millennials.”

With the trial now over, Sainsbury’s Holborn store has seen its manned tills return. However, after the popularity of the mobile payment option, this feature will remain in use for customers who wish to use it, rather than it being a mandatory payment method.

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