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Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched checkoutless mobile payment technology in 50 of its stores across the UK, after a trial proved the service was popular with customers.
The technology allows customers to use the M&S app on their smartphone to scan products as they shop, checkout through the app and walk out of the store without visiting a till.
Sacha Berendji, director of retail, operations and property at M&S, said: “M&S is changing to become a Digital First retailer with industry-leading store operations – and Mobile Pay Go is a really exciting part of that. The roll-out means more of our customers will be able to benefit from this popular technology and enjoy a seamless shopping experience – which we know is especially important at lunchtime.”
The service, which M&S has called Mobile Pay Go, is aimed at making it more convenient for customers at peak times, with the retailer claiming it allows customers to buy their lunch in under 40 seconds. It also reduces queueing times, and means store employees can use their time for other things rather than being needed on checkouts.
After a trial in six of its stores, the technology can now be used in 50 locations, 49 of which are in London – the stores chosen for the service were selected to take part because they get extremely busy at peak times.
To use the service, customers have to be signed up to the M&S Sparks loyalty service, must pay through a card registered in the application and can only be used for transactions under £30.
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M&S will be adding Mobile Pay Go to stores where appropriate. In its New Change Food store, almost half of transactions of this type happen at lunch time, and the brand sells over two million sandwiches a week.
Other retail brands have also been trialling and adopting a checkoutless retail experience to cater to customers who live on their mobile phones – Sainsbury’s launched a trial of the technology in 2019 and Co-op did the same the year before.
M&S has admitted in the past to being “well behind” its competitors when it comes to some of the more digital aspects of retail and has spent the last couple of years implementing technologies to rectify this.
One of the M&S branches which took place in the original Mobile Pay Go trial, Clapham Junction SW11, is a “renewal store” for the brand – a refurbished store environment focused on in-store experience through technology and a modernised supply chain.
Test and learn
The renewal locations are working on a “test and learn” basis to see how customers react to updated store formats and interactive services, and to test the “operational impact” of the firm’s new supply chain and logistics plan.
Joe Erskine, store manager at the Clapham Junction branch, said of the Mobile Pay Go technology: “We all know how fast-paced London life is and how busy our customers are, so the great response we’ve had to Mobile Pay Go has been no surprise to us here at Clapham Junction. Making it as easy as possible for customers to come in, purchase our products and be on their way is hugely important to us.”
Recent years have seen M&S introduce a photo searching capability to its mobile site to help people find products they might like using external images, as well as battery charging banks for customer use while shopping. The retailer also partnered with Founders Factory to gain access to new innovations with the possibility of building new joint retail ventures, and announced it would be trialling an 11pm cut-off for free next-day click-and-collect delivery.
In 2020, M&S plans to relaunch its Sparks customer rewards programme for greater personalisation, and through its £750m deal with Ocado, M&S products will be available through the online Ocado shopping platform from September 2020.