Last year Amazon Fresh were first to open a till-less store in London, and a few months later Tesco followed suit with a trial store of their own. Our team have been to visit both, to see how it works and to see how POS might be used in such stores if they become more common.
Till-less stores are aimed at young millennials, who were born into a world filled with technology and were the first generation to grow up with technology in their lives every day. They offer a quick in-and-out retail model that avoids queues, saves time and could flip traditional retail environments on their head. Shop for what you need, when you need it.
So, how does it work?
To visit these stores, you need to have the appropriate app installed on your phone. Then you scan a QR code as you enter, and the app creates a digital profile that follows you around the store. As you remove items from the shelves and place them straight into your bag the app recognises what you have selected and adds it your profile. If you put an item back it will remove it from your profile. Shelves have scales under the products so they can sense when a product is removed or replaced. Then all you have to do is walk out of the store and your account will be charged for your shopping. Clever stuff.
What was the experience like?
Both stores were very minimal, and felt more like a warehouse than a traditional retail environment, but a pleasant environment nonetheless. The shelves were well stocked, with a wide variety of products available and clearly displayed, although we only noted branded products. There were staff available at both stores, to help customers and to maintain stock – some were dealing with frustrated customers outside who didn’t understand the concept of needing an app just to get inside. There weren’t many customers in either store when we visited, perhaps just a couple in each. Both stores had a great range, pretty much everything you would need. But it did feel odd, particularly to just walk out at the end.
Was there any POS?
We did spot minimal POS. One was a decorative Christmas tree totem, that didn’t contain any product, and we were also very pleased to see one of our own creations for MyBlu too. As stores are designed as a quick in-and-out experience, this doesn’t leave much time or space for retailers to create marketing campaigns, particularly at a sales level. But we could imagine the space would at least allow for drawing attention to products on the shelf and directing people to offers in store. And as the technology behind these stores develops, who knows what will be possible in the future.
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