On the verge of a cash register-free supermarket

On the verge of a cash register-free supermarket
Foto: Walmart

Paying at the cash register remains the most annoying moment at a supermarket. Many food retailers are now trialing smartphone apps to help customers scan and pay: will the cash register become superfluous soon?

Seamless purchase process

It looks like cash register-free Amazon Go’s announcement has awoken several retailers. The prospect that you can simply walk out of a supermarket, sounds very appealing. Waiting lines at cash registers are a consumer’s largest annoyance and paying is never fun. Solutions that could help create a seamless purchase process will improve the customer service and a store’s efficiency. However, not even the self-scanning solutions that are now commonplace, are still not seamless.


Monoprix is trialing the Monop’Easy app in two Parisian stores: it lets customers scan barcodes themselves and add things to their shopping cart. When done, one only has to press the “buy” button. The card’s information needs to be added to the app beforehand though, eliminating the need to pass by the cash register, even though checks can be done at the exit.  


Monop’Easy was developed with convenience store chains Monop’ and Monop’Daily in mind. Monoprix already has other solutions for its larger supermarkets, especially for people who do not want to or cannot carry them: Shop&Go. Shoppers can therefore leave the cart at the store and get them delivered at home, where they have pay for the entire grocery list. This idea already became an inspiration for Carrefour Belgium.


Has the time come?

British Sainsbury’s is also trialing a mobile app, in a store located at the London train station Euston. The modus operandum is about the same: customers can scan items with their smartphone, automatically pay and can leave the store without having to pass the cash register. The retailer now wants to expand its SmartShop app to about fifty stores later this year.


On the other side of the ocean, Walmart is doing the same thing with the Scan & Go app, which is being trialed since the spring in a limited number of stores. It is the same story as before: shoppers scan their purchases with a smartphone and pay with the app. An employee will check the receipt at the exit though. Closer to home, Albert Heijn’s Appie app also has self-scanning  features and has even been moved to a separate app (AH Zelfscannen) as it prepares a new version.


Timing is everything: Carrefour Belgium pioneered the SmartScan app several years ago, an app that pretty much had the same functionality. However, it did not have an integrated payment service and hasn’t been updated with the service since then. It was too early back then, but perhaps the time has come. Most shoppers have smartphones now and have become accustomed to mobile payment apps. Their experiences with self-scanning technology has given retailers an insight into the risk of fraud, but it will probably take a while before we have the seamless “just walk out” store experience Amazon Go promotes…