Sainsbury’s are trialling their first till-free shop by Clapham North station and, as Clapham residents here at Redblue, we just had to try it out!
The premise is simple, you scan the barcode of your items using the Sainsbury’s SmartShop app, pop it straight in your bag, pay on your phone using Apple Pay and leave.
The most obvious benefit of this is faster gratification, something that has become critical given how high online services have now raised the bar. Nowadays, consumers want things straight away without an added premium to get it. If you fancy a new toaster, you can order from Amazon and the item can be delivered personally to you within a couple of hours. If you want a chauffeur to pick you up and take you anywhere in the country (at a very decent price), you can tap a couple of buttons and an Uber will turn up within a couple of minutes. This means that now waiting in a queue can feel downright ridiculous.
Beyond the clear efficiency benefits, the new till-free stores offer a range of exciting opportunities for customer engagement and brand building.
For one it will surely encourage more impulse shopping. The thought of nipping into an M&S to get a quick snack for the commute home becomes way less appealing when you see the queue snaking around; knowing you could quite literally grab and go would be much more attractive.
Other future opportunities are for the new found space if tills are fully removed. On a basic level, this would allow for more product lines, or more interestingly product sampling and testing areas, showcasing exciting or unusual rotating offers (a la Lidl and Aldi), or – more stretchily - could allow for the creation of completely new spaces such as cafes, community or performance zones to create more memorable, meaningful areas with more personality.
And finally, the fact that customers are shopping and scanning with their smartphone, provides the launchpad for a host of more tailored in-the-moment engagement and promotions. For instance, making customers aware of promotions or even offering recipe suggestions/further products based on what they scan and is already in their bag is likely to be hugely valued by most shoppers, if done in a truly helpful way.
Outside the store, your app could tell you when a special offer is available on your favourite beer or wine, and one can imagine an option for requesting your dinner items are ready to be picked up in a basket on your way home.
All of the above feel truly compelling for the customer, and could reinvigorate bricks and mortar store’s relevance to the busy, modern-day consumer.
Filled with excitement at all of the possibilities, back in Clapham I entered the store, new shopping app at the ready. OK, there were a fair few bugs which made the initial foray not as efficient as it obviously will become, and most amusingly, the app insisted on calling me ‘Ben’ repeatedly. But I did manage to buy my dinner and overall the experience felt game changing, and one that is surely the future.
Here at Redblue, we love helping brands understand how to create new experiences in response to changing consumer needs and market conditions. If your brand is looking to stay ahead of the competition, we’d love to chat!