Morrisons launches till-free store concept

Morrisons has opened a till-free store enabling customers to pick up their groceries and walk out.
The supermarket chain is testing the till-free concept at a pilot store for staff outside its head office in Bradford, the Mail on Sunday reported.

If the concept proves successful, the till-free technology will be rolled out to further stores across the country, according to the report.

The shop set up is portable, and designed to be be put on a lorry and opened up as a pop-up in other locations.

The trial of till free technology at Morrisons comes after rival big 4 retailer Tesco launched its first cashless store last year in a Tesco Express store on High Holborn, in central London.

A further autonomous Tesco store with frictionless checkout technology opened in Welwyn Garden City, where the company has its headquarters.

Both moves come after Amazon launched its Just Walk Out store concept in the UK, which uses a combination of cameras, sensors, and machine learning to detect when a customer puts items in their basket, and then automatically charges their account when they walk out.

The e-commerce giant recently extended its move into bricks and mortar retail with a fourth cashierless UK supermarket in Canary Wharf, which will operate under its “Amazon Fresh” brand.

Sachin Jangam, partner for retail at Infosys Consulting said: “Just walk out stores are a natural progression of the changes we’ve already seen in retail.

Stores have moved from all staffed tills to self-checkouts, and more recently, scan on the go. Considering the stages of this evolution so far, it’s clear that ‘just walk out’ will be the future.

With Morrisons now testing out the concept, following Tesco’s first-ever cashless store earlier this year, it seems the transition to ‘just walk out’ models is being led by the Big 4. This is not surprising, given their ability to make significant technology investments, and sheer store format size and overall product density on the shelves. However, this model is far more suited to the High Street stores owned by the Big 4, rather than their large superstores.

However, he added: “The overall economics of store operations are still in question, given the reduced product range, high rental costs, and significant technology investments required. ‘Just walk out’ will likely remain in a trial period for the next few years, before we start to see mass rollouts. Beyond technology, leaders will be paying close attention to store profitability before putting money behind this innovation.”

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