Speed has always been an important currency in the retail world. At a time when technology creates limitless possibilities, to ensure that every consumer need can be catered for… or is it retailer need? The retailers that invest in speed and ease of shop, will undoubtedly have the edge over competitors.
This week Tesco have launched their ‘GetGo’ checkout free convenience format, in response to recent checkout free concepts such as Aldi’s Shop&Go, and of course Amazon Fresh. In many ways they are not in competition with each other, they are merely investing in the newest tech to enhance consumers ‘ease of shop’ – which will no doubt become commonplace in years to come. The first UK supermarket to trial checkout free stores was Sainsbury’s in 2019, but after a slow uptake, the project was abandoned, perhaps Sainsbury’s will be the next retailer to introduce a ‘just walk out’ service and keep pace with competitors?
The first self-service supermarket was opened by Sainsbury’s in 1948, and the first self-checkout tills were introduced by Tesco in 2003, now in 2021, we have ‘checkout free’ stores. How far and fast, will these be rolled out? Will they be limited to small format grocery (Aldi) or convenience stores? It seems inconceivable that this technology would be sophisticated enough to cover a ‘typical’ supermarket of 40 – 60,000 square foot, with a wider non-food product offering.
What will be next? Stores with no staff? Will we see a major grocer make significant investment in large scale vending machine roll-out? Already a concept quite commonplace in Japan. A typical UK convenience store has between 15 and 20 members of staff, perhaps a single large format vending machine could be maintained by 4 or 5 members of staff? This sounds like a crazy idea, but don’t rule it out.
Talking of vending machines. We stumbled upon this great execution in Coal Drops Yard, last week. The ‘Hemp Automat’. Implemented by Kiosk N1C as part of the London Design Festival, it looks and works fantastically. Ignoring the niche product offering of Hemp-based products, some of which are quite high price point (£42), we can really see this serving a purpose in the world of modern ‘speed-retailing’.
Imagine a vending machine of this type, placed at a major sporting event, filled with single sized souvenir caps or scarves? Restocked a few times it could generate apx £4,000 a day! It could be stocked with ‘cupboard essentials’ such as: bread; milk; butter; pasta; beans; flour; soups and cereals etc. It would certainly come-in handy for parents of high school children, needing last minute ingredients for home economics class!
So. Checkout free stores will no doubt become the norm, as they are rolled out wider in 2022 across a range of retailers. The benefit to the retailer will be an increased dependence from the consumer on their respective mobile apps, which are intrinsic to the experience, allowing them to communicate and reward loyalty on a more regular basis. The benefit to the consumer will be speed and ease of shop, and the potential of lower prices and tailored deals, shared with them via the app.
See you in store!
#shoppermarketing #retail #marketing #convenience #technology