Tesco opens its first checkout-free store

Supermarket giant launches new trial metres from site of abandoned attempt by Sainsbury’s

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 19 October 2021 02:17
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<p>A customer uses the Tesco GetGo store in Holborn</p>

A customer uses the Tesco GetGo store in Holborn

Tesco has become the latest retailer to open a checkout-free store in the UK.

Replacing traditional tills with high-tech cameras, weight sensors and a mobile app, the supermarket giant is launching its first high street store trial, called GetGo, in London on Tuesday.

Tesco said it was aiming to “improve the shopping experience” and save customers’ time.

The firm – which is one of the UK’s largest employers – stressed that the move away from cashiers will not reduce the number of staff in stores, with the High Holborn site continuing to employ 22 workers, which it said is in line with other convenience stores.

It comes after Aldi opened its own till-free shop last month in Greenwich, with Amazon having launched its first Amazon Go grocery shop seven months prior in Ealing, before expanding to five more sites in the capital.

Morrisons, Lidl and the Co-op have also trialled checkout-free technology in their stores.

Sainsbury’s, however, became the first UK supermarket to open a checkout-free store in April 2019, also in Holborn. But it abandoned the project five months later, saying: “Take-up was not as we had expected and it’s clear that not all our customers are ready for a totally till-free store.”

Tesco is reported to have been testing its “frictionless” technology at a trial site within the supermarket group’s headquarters in Welwyn Garden City since 2019.

The retailer said the technology had now been lifted from the trial site after a lengthy period of testing and improvements.

To shop in the new store, shoppers will need to use the Tesco app, which will be scanned as they enter the building. They will then pick up the items they wish to buy and walk straight out of the store, receiving a receipt and being charged for the products once they have left.

Cameras will register the items people pick up, with weight sensors recognising when products are taken off shelves. There will also be a section in the store specifically for age-restricted products, with a separate exit where staff will check ID.

The Tesco Express store in High Holborn is where the company also chose to launch its first cashless shop in February last year.

“This is a really exciting moment for Tesco as we launch GetGo with customers,” said Kevin Tindall, managing director of Tesco Convenience.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve the shopping experience and our latest innovation offers a seamless checkout for customers on the go, helping them to save a bit more time.

“This is currently just a one-store trial, but we're looking forward to seeing how our customers respond.”

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