​iPhone users get to skip the queue in shopping pay-and-go trial

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Supermarket giant Sainsbury's is trialling new scan, pay and go technology which will allow customers at one of its London stores to pay for their shopping using their iPhone and skip the checkout completely.

Customers at its Clapham North Station branch can use their smartphone to scan their shopping as they go using the retailer's SmartShop app and then pay for it -- before they leave the store -- through the app, using Apple Pay.

Customers can already use SmartShop in 68 Sainsbury's supermarkets, but have to pay for their goods at the till: customers using the new Apple Pay system can simply pay up and walk out. Sainsbury's said there are over 100,000 SmartShop transactions and over 3,000 new customer registrations every week.

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Automation is a hot topic for retailers who want to cut checkout queues and reduce the need for human cashiers at the same time -- an attractive option in a retail market where margins can be razor thin.

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Image: Sainsbury's

Amazon has already taken the concept a step further with its Amazon Go store in Seattle, which doesn't even require shoppers to scan items: customers simply pick up what they want and leave the store. It uses technologies such as computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning to determine what has been picked up by a customer and then charges their Amazon account when they leave the store.

Sainsbury's will use customer feedback from Clapham to develop and improve the experience before testing the technology in different store types and locations to learn more over the coming months. The supermarket said it is the first grocery retailer in the UK to offer customers the ability to shop without going to the checkout. Group chief digital officer, Clodagh Moriarty, said: "Technology and changing customer shopping habits have transformed the way people buy their groceries."

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