IF SANTA were to grant me one wish this year, it would be for a way to escape mind-numbing festive queues.
Sainsbury’s made it a reality this week at one of its stores in central London – no holiday magic necessary.
This Sainsbury’s in central London has no cashiers or automated cashiersCredit: The Sun
Customers scan a QR code to get in, take items off the shelves and stroll out. Their bank card is later charged through their online Sainbury’s accountCredit: The Sun
Just a hop and a skip from the capital’s bustling Oxford Street, the unassuming shop has no snaking lines or cashiers to speak of.
Rather than scanning items and flashing a bit of plastic, customers can pick up whatever they want and leave without having to use a till.
You’re billed minutes later through an app without needing to speak to a single person… or machine.
Sainsbury’s launched the location near its headquarters in Lonon’s Holborn on Monday in hopes that it will revolutionise the way we grab our groceries.
Approaching its sliding doors with a hint of curious apprehension on opening day, I was struck by how ordinary it looked.
You’d be forgiven for assuming it was any old supermarket until you walked through the entrance and met the automated barrier.
You pass through after scanning in using a QR code that’s linked to the Sainsbury’s SmartShop Pick & Go app, which has your bank details on it.
Once you’re in, you simply pick items off the shelves and put them in your bag. Cameras and other sensors track what you grasp and put back.
You’re free to roam around the pokey store and pick up bits and pieces as you please – the cameras ensure you won’t be getting a five-finger discount.
Trying it out for myself for the first time, it was hard not to feel like I was breaking the law as I bagged items I knew I was about to simply walk away with.
The store stocks everything you’d expect from a city-centre supermarket, from small packets of meat to pints of milk and grab-and-go sandwiches.
There’s even a booze section where you can snag some wine and beer. It’s locked behind a gate manned by a member of staff who checks your ID before entry.
Sainsbury’s is using Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in the shop.
The retail giant’s system is already used in dozens of its Amazon Go stores in the US and UK, meaning it’s tried and tested.
To put it through its paces a bit, I picked up a few items, walked around for a bit, and then replaced them to see if I was billed later on.
As I walked out of the door (via another QR code-activated barrier) a digital receipt dropped into my email inbox.
It featured only the items still in my bag and none that I’d returned to their shelves: A true Christmas miracle.
Speaking to fellow customers outside, I discovered that most worked nearby and had popped by on launch day out of curiosity.
One shopper – Mark, from north London – admitted that he’d had no idea the store was till-less until he strolled through the front door.
Many agreed that the lack of queues and the time saved by skipping checkout made for a quick and easy shop.
If only this sort of technology was available in all of London’s stores… Santa, you know what to do.
Shelves are weighted to detect when items have been removedCredit: The Sun
The ceiling is littered with cameras and other sensors that track what’s been picked up and put back by customersCredit: The Sun
You need to scan the QR code on your phone again when you leaveCredit: The Sun
Once you’ve filled your shopping bag, you simply walk out of the shop without scanning the bar codes of your items or presenting your bank cardCredit: The Sun
Sainsbury’s emails you the receipt and charges you card onlineCredit: The Sun
In other news, Apple has announced that it will let customers fix their own iPhones for the first time starting next year.
The UK is fighting an epidemic of hack attacks targeting consumers and businesses, according to officials.
NASA has slammed Russia after a missile it fired into one of its own satellites forced the space station to perform an emergency swerve.
And, a 75-year-old Brit has told of his anger after scammers on WhatsApp fooled him into sending them hundreds of pounds.
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