I hate queuing, so the weekly Aldi big shop can be a traumatic experience.
And nipping into Tesco with the kids can cause a full-blown meltdown when they start arguing over who is going to scan items at the self-service tills.
I almost accidentally stole a bottle of shampoo last week when the till insisted on telling me I had scanned it when I clearly hadn’t.
So then I had to wait for the assistant to come and sort out the infuriating computer that says no.
That’s why a new Co-op scheme could be the answer to my prayers, and those of time-pressed shoppers across the country – if it works. Forget unexpected items in the bagging area or queuing for ages at the till.Read More
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Shopping could soon be as easy as the swipe of a smartphone, as the Co-op becomes the first supermarket in the country to trial completely till-less checkouts.
The chain has pioneered technology which means people can scan items on an app as they shop, which then checks out their goods with one click debiting the cost directly from their bank card, meaning they don’t have to go to a till.
The shop, scan and go scheme – which you can only use if you have a smartphone with you – is being trialled at a store at the chain’s headquarters in Manchester, so I went along to become one of the first shoppers in the country to try it.
And given I get shopping rage even when buying just a loaf of bread, I’m a very tricky customer.
Armed with my smartphone I headed into the Co-op to put the system to the test.
Firstly, I went for some bread. All you do is hover your phone over the item’s barcode, it scans and you pop the item in your bag.
It even works for loose goods such as fruit and veg. All you do is scan the item’s barcode on the shelf and input how many apples or bananas you are buying.
And you can even get munching if you want.
I’m soon whizzing round the store, scanning and bagging without any hassle.
I don’t even need to go to the wine aisle for medicinal purposes, which is a good job as the app doesn’t yet let you buy age-restricted items like alcohol.Read More
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Once your shopping is complete, you click the checkout button and it tells you how much your bill is, how much you have saved with your Co-op membership card, how much has been donated to your chosen charity, and then debits it your account.
It’s all very easy – and far less stressful than the usual way of shopping.
Though I fear having to race around the aisles like you’re doing a trolley dash if your phone’s battery is running out.
I felt weird just popping stuff into my bag without going to a till, almost as if I was stealing it. And walking out of the shop at 1 Angel Square I half-expected a tap on the shoulder from security.
There is an option to give feedback, like if an item you wanted was out of stock, or if a staff member was particularly helpful.
Speaking of Co-op staff, does this scheme mean they should be fearing losing their jobs to a app? Not according to Matthew Speight, Co-op’s director of retail support, who says: “We have got stores in every corner of the UK, from islands up in Scotland to city centre railway stations. This is about giving people choice.
“Not everybody wants a quick service but some do.
“For many of our customers they may only speak to one person a day, and that might be our store colleague so we don’t want to take that away. But equally there are customers who are in a rush who just want to get in and out.”
Co-op would aim the scheme initially at city centre stores, or shops at railway stations where people want to grab their lunch or something for dinner and get out without having to queue.
At the minute, the scheme is only open to Co-op staff at the Manchester office but if it is deemed a success it could be rolled out to other sites as early as this summer.
As for theft, the Co-op is trusting that most of its customers will be honest and pay for their shopping, although Matthew says they may look at security measures such as CCTV to combat shoplifting.
But with the number of people using cash to shop dropping by a fifth over the past five years, the use of smartphones to scan and shop could be the next step to a cashless society.
And if it means the end of my shopping rage, I will be first in the non-queue to sign up.
139 years of ringing in the changes
1879: Cash register invented in Dayton, Ohio, by US saloon owner James Ritty to stop theft.
1884: Paper receipts added to tills.
1906: First till with electric motor.
1974: Again in Ohio, a pack of chewing gum becomes the first item ever to be scanned at a supermarket till.
1984: Self-service till invented in Florida by David Humble.