Woolworths has extended its trial of the hi-tech scan-and-go purchasing application which allows shoppers to buy groceries in store directly from their phone, foregoing queues and the frustration of self-serve check-outs.
The supermarket giant was the first Australian retailer to use the buy-and-walk-out technology in September at its Double Bay store in inner Sydney and customers can now use the convenient solution at four more locations.
The company’s “metro” stores in central Sydney at Pitt Street, George Street, York Street and the MetCentre are now fitted with the scan-and-go experience.
To get going, shoppers download the app on their smartphones and sign in with their Woolworths Rewards loyalty membership account.
They then wander through the store and scan the products they want and place the items directly in their bag.
Buying loose fresh produce such as apples is a two step process — shoppers scan the item at the shelf then take it to the weigh scales where the total is added up and then scanned.
Once the shop is done, the “continue to pay” button is tapped and the purchase is made directly with the payment information linked to the account.
They then bypass the queues to the dedicated scan-and-go checkout which acts as a final checkpoint before exiting the store.
Woolworths head of payments and financial services Paul Monnington said the technology was keenly adopted by consumers at the Double Bay store where more than 70 per cent were repeat users.
“The key question as we extend the trial is do people really want to do that shopping journey?” he told news.com.au.
“We’re trying to get more customers and more journeys in to increase the volume and really see from a trial perspective whether it definitely is what they want.”
Mr Monnington said the convenience of the advanced technology will allow for a better shopping experience.
The two main benefits is it negates the need to unpack the groceries at the checkout, while it also allows consumers to better monitor its spend mid-shop through the app.
But he hesitated to predict the technology will replace staffed check-outs as well as the self-service payment points.
“It will be a journey that will be relevant to some customers but not all customers,” Mr Monnington said.
“From a technology perspective it works, some customers want to get in and get out, they want to get their receipt straight away.
“Whether or not it will be in every store is another thing.”
Woolworths says the payment alternative will act as a complimentary channel to the existing checkout options as the company last week continued the rollout of the drive-through grocery pick up.
Queensland University of Technology associate professor Gary Mortimer says it’s unlikely the payment alternative will replace the existing checkout options altogether but it’s a progressive response to the “pain points” consumers dislike.
“This type of scan-and-go technology works well in a convenience sector where shoppers are purchasing small quantities in a busy inner city supermarket,” he told news.com.au.
“The main gripe that customers have after a positive in store experience is having to line up, whether that is at a staffed register or a self-service register.
“This type of technology overcomes that customer pain point, allowing shoppers to grab a couple of purchases and simply leave.”
The extension of the trial comes shortly after the convenience store chain 7-Eleven launched its own click-and-go concept store in Melbourne last month, which is completely cash and card free.
“It may be more challenging in a larger supermarket with a full weekly shop but certainly to expedite that customer service experience, this type of technology will become another option in supermarkets,” Dr Mortimer said.
Woolworths Metro store manager at Pitt Street, Dirk Solling, said he expects the concept to be adopted so successfully that it will need to be expanded on site.
“It will work really well here because our average customer buys three items, so at lunchtime when the queue grows and there’s sixty people in front of them, even though it’s a really quick process, it gives them that other option to pay without waiting,” he said.
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