Cashierless Checkout Spreads to Manchester Retailer The Co-op

March 12, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Cashierless checkout: it’s not just for Amazon Go any more. While Amazon may have led the way in bringing out a concept that’s been a concept since the mid-2000s—just check out the IBM RFID video called “The Future Market”—Amazon isn’t the only one engaged in this concept. Recently, a retailer in the UK known as The Co-op took a run at this concept itself, and the results so far have been impressive.

The reports suggest that the Co-op’s new cashierless checkout system, available at the retailer’s Manchester support center, will be expanding to its Reading location soon followed by a wider rollout from there if all goes as planned. The app itself is built around Mastercard’s digital payments technology, and is set to not replace cash or other methods, but rather provide one more option among several to make for a better customer experience.

Shoppers will be able to scan items with mobile devices while going through the store, and when finished, settle up accordingly with a one-click interface. The app draws on information provide to the Co-op’s membership account, and also displays that information readily, including total amount saved and total amount donated to local efforts as a result of that shopping. With cash transactions on the decline at the Co-op—down 15 percent just in the last 18 months, and over 20 percent over the last five years—it was clear something needed to change.

It’s the kind of thing that some people have been waiting for for a long time; we all know the frustration of a store with 30 checkout stands, but only three of them are manned, and the lines are just getting longer while frozen foods melt in your cart. A system like this means the wait is never as long as it might be, and helps speed up the flow through the checkout stand. Of course, it might also mean some job losses, but as long as there are folks without smartphones, there will be a call for real-human cashiers.

This technology is starting to catch on elsewhere, so we may well see this in more places before long. That represents a serious sea change, and one that may have a lot deeper ramifications than anyone expects.