Amazon and Tesco’s checkout-free stores – The Property Chronicle
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Amazon and Tesco’s checkout-free stores

The Professor

A niche idea that won’t save the high street.

There have never been so many different ways to shop for groceries. The biggest chains offer customers a choice of vast superstores, smaller branches and online options to buy from home. 

Now some of the UK’s best-known supermarkets are experimenting with checkout-free stores. Following Amazon’s lead (it launched in London in March 2021), Sainsbury’s (Pick & Go) and Tesco (GetGo) have recently opened branches which offer a streamlined shopping experience. 

The stores are kitted out with machine learning, camera and shelf technology (with weight sensors and motion detectors) to track which items consumers pick up and take with them. There is no need for any scanning or interaction. You simply choose what you need and leave. 

This sounds extremely convenient. And for the supermarkets it is a business model which will save on staff costs, and provide valuable information about shoppers and their habits (data which could potentially be made available as another source of revenue).

But is the checkout-free concept necessarily good for consumers and high streets? 

It certainly provides what some consider to be two key principles of creating a good customer experience: perceived autonomy and ease.

These modern stores are designed to make people feel that the shopping experience requires less effort, without the need to go through the processes of queuing, placing (or scanning) items at the till machine and making a payment. 

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