These days there are far too many ways to pay your shopping when you're actually in the shop. Regular checkouts with people, self-service checkouts that nobody seems to be able to use, those strange scanning systems I've never bothered to try, and so on. But supermarkets aren't happy, and have been following in Amazon's footsteps to give this 'checkout-free' system a try. The latest one to give it a go is Sainsbury's.
Just like Tesco, Walmart, Amazon, and others, Sainsbury's is launching a trial to see if people can get their heads round the idea of scanning things themselves and not having to queue up before they leave. The idea is that customers use the SmartShop app to scan things as they wander the aisles, and that's available in 68 branches across the UK. Unfortunately 67 of them will continue forcing you to queue up and associate with a person and/or machine to pay.
For the true checkout-free experience you're going to have to go to the Clapham North Sainsbury's Local. You'll also need an iPhone with Apple Pay, because that's currently the only way you can actually pay for things on your phone. Android users will continue to have to stand in a queue while someone wonders what it could possibly mean when the machine tells them to put their bananas in the bagging area.
SmartShop app users will have to scan a QR code by the shop's exist before they can properly finish off their shopping, and will have to ask staff to remove any security tags that may be present on their food. That sounds a little irritating to be honest, but then again so is flagging the supervisor down at self-service because they're too busy teaching people how the machines work. You're also not allowed to buy alcohol and things like paracetamol this way, for obvious reasons.
Currently there's no set end-point for the trial, and Sainsbury's has confirmed it has no intention of using the new system to replace staff - in order to give customers a choice on how to pay. [BBC News]