United Kingdom

Tesco… but no tills: Supermarket giant will launch first checkout-free store 

Supermarket giant Tesco is set to launch its first checkout-free store following in Amazon's footsteps.

The announcement follows successful trials at Tesco's head office, which saw shoppers scan items with their phone. 

Payment was then taken automatically from the customers account as they walked out the store.  

Chief executive Ken Murphy said the year-long trial at the Express store in the Welwyn Garden City head office had 'worked really well'.  

'We'll extend that in the coming weeks and months to test it in a more urban environment', he added. 

'Machine learning is continuously improving so we feel confident we can put it into another store with a higher traffic.'

Supermarket giant Tesco is set to launch its first checkout-free store where customers scan their items on their phones

 Tesco then automatically takes payment from the customers account as they walk out the store

Amazon opened its first 'frictionless' shop in Ealing in March. Shoppers there must identify themselves but scanning a QR code when they enter the store. 

But, they are then free to select items - without having to scan them - and are billed when they leave the store. 

Amazon uses hundreds of cameras, depth-sensors, and AI software to work out which items a customer has taken.

Tesco will ask customers to scan each item they select but it is not yet clear how the supermarket giant intends to prevent stealing. 

Amazon opened its first 'frictionless' shop in Ealing in March (pictured). Shoppers there must identify themselves but scanning a QR code when they enter the store

Murphy laid to rest concerns supermarkets would suffer as non-essential shops, restaurants, and bars reopened.  

He said easing of restrictions had seen 'a return to more normalised shopping, higher frequency shopping, and smaller basket sizes. 

'We're also seeing a shift again towards the weekend days being our peak shopping days in terms of traffic.

'There's definitely been a shift back to eating out but there continues to be a strong demand for eating at home.

'As a consequence, things like beer, wine and spirits have stayed remarkably strong.'

Murphy said good weather and the Euro 2020 football tournament have also helped. 

Chief executive Ken Murphy said the year-long trial at the Express store in the Welwyn Garden City head office had 'worked really well'

He added the supermarket's sales grew by 0.5 per cent to £10billion this year, up 9.3 per cent on the same quarter in 2019.

Murphy said online sales also remained strong, with demand for home cooking and baking products up 20 per cent.  

The supermarket giant has also announced plants to extend a one-hour delivery trial as it tests consumers' appetite for the service, its boss said on Friday.

Rapid delivery is the latest frontier in the battle for grocery shoppers' cash.

A raft of new firms, including Weezy, Getir, Dija and Gorillas, are offering deliveries within 15 minutes of ordering, prompting traditional supermarket groups to rethink their business models. 

Tesco piloted its 'Whoosh' service to postcodes around its Express store in Wolverhampton in central England and has now rolled out the trial to 11 more stores, Murphy told reporters after updating on first-quarter trading. read more

All items are delivered by bike, moped or car, with a £5 delivery fee.

'We'll keep testing and learning from this as well as the trial we're doing in more than 260 One Stop stores with Deliveroo,' Murphy said.

Speaking on Friday, Tesco's chief executive also called on the government to make a deal with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol and provide clarity over potential supply chain issues

Speaking on Friday, the chief executive also called on the government to make a deal with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol and provide clarity over potential supply chain issues. 

He also said the supermarket giant does not expect to see major changes to stores following a trade agreement with Australia.  

He said: 'We have really strong supply chain partners and most of those partners are local to us.

'They're British suppliers or Irish suppliers and therefore we don't really anticipate any change from our perspective.'    

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