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Co-op trials pay-in-aisle technology

Food retailer Co-op plans to introduce a smartphone self-checkout system so customers can pay for goods without visiting a till

The Co-op is planning to implement technology in its food stores to allow customers to check out without visiting a till.

The retailer is currently trialling technology that enables shoppers to pay for goods using a smartphone app in the store in its Manchester support centre, and expects to release the technology more widely later in 2018. The later release will include its store in Microsoft’s headquarters.

Introducing this technology is part of the Co-op’s response to consumers’ increasing desire for a more seamless shopping experience, according to Matthew Speight, director of retail support at Co-op.

“It is all about consumer choices and convenience,” he said. “We listen to our members and customers, and we are investing in our stores, people, prices, products and technology. We recognise there are many communities where customers pop in to their local Co-op and enjoy a friendly chat – it is all part of the service. Whereas for others, perhaps with a train to catch or on a school run, every second can count as consumers seek increased convenience.”

Fewer people are choosing to pay for goods with cash as they become more comfortable using cashless methods, such as contactless cards or mobile wallets on smartphones and wearable devices.

Co-op has seen a reduction in cash payments in its stores over the past five years, including a 15% drop in cash payments in just the past 18 months.

The smartphone application, dubbed the “shop, scan and go” initiative, uses Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet. Once consumers have used the Co-op app to scan the items they want to purchase, they can then check out through the app using previously stored card details.

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With access to technology, consumers have more choice over how they shop, whether that be via smartphone, online or in-store. This is putting pressure on retailers to give customers an experience that is seamless and personalised across all channels.

This can mean different things to different consumers, and more mobile-led consumers want to be able to both pay and collect loyalty points through their smartphones.

Co-op’s new functionality will integrate with its membership scheme so that when customers check out using the app they will see the rewards they have gained as a result of the transaction and are also told how much of their purchase will be donated, on their behalf, to a local good cause.

Elliott Goldenberg, head of digital payments at Mastercard UK, said that although technology is enabling retailers to keep up with shopping trends driven by tech-savvy customers, it is also important to ensure other consumers are still receiving the shopping experience they want.

“Technology is bringing unprecedented change to retailing right before our eyes, however the challenge for all of us who play a part in the retail experience is meeting the needs of all consumers, who are moving at different speeds in the adoption of technology,” he said.

While many retailers are closing or rethinking the purpose of physical stores in light of changing consumer behaviour, Co-op has taken a different approach, and announced earlier this year that it plans to open 100 new food stores in 2018.

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