Tesco has opened its first ever mainstream cashless store in London’s High Holborn amid the latest major move towards a cash-free economy.
The UK’s largest grocer Tesco opened the cashless Tesco Express on Monday allowing users to pay with a range of digital payment options including contactless cards and digital wallets like Apple Pay.
While staff will be on hand to help customers, the store will only contain self-service checkouts in a bid to streamline the entire payment process.
Tesco has already experimented with a cashless store at its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, introducing its “Scan Pay Go” app allowing shoppers to scan items as they shop and pay digitally.
Although this store is open to the public, it is mainly used by Tesco employees.
While many see cashless stores as the future of retail, with pioneering retailers like Amazon introducing the new formats across the globe, experiments in the UK’s grocery sector have faced massive backlash from customers not yet ready for the transition.
Just last month Tesco announced plans to make its “Scan as you Shop” system cashless sparking outrage among many customers across the UK.
The system allows any Tesco Clubcard holders to scan items’ barcodes with a portable handset as they shop, then simply scan the barcode at the top of a specialised checkout to pay for goods quickly and easily.
Despite the systems’ popularity, shoppers threatened to boycott Tesco after it announced that it will no longer be accepting cash payments for Scan as you Shop purchases, directing users who wish to pay with cash to regular checkouts.
In response to the backlash, Tesco said: “90% of our Scan As You Shop customers check-out using card payment, so to make it easier and faster for customers, the Scan As You Shop tills at most of our larger stores will take card payments only, from the 13th January.”
Similarly Tesco’s key rival Sainsbury’s was forced to scrap the UK’s first ever cashierless grocery store after a three-month trial admitting “not all our customers are ready for totally till-free” shopping.
Sainsbury’s SmartShop Scan app allowed users to pick and scan items with their smartphone, adding them to a virtual basket before using the same app to pay for them, much like Tesco’s system.
However many customers were frustrated at not being able to pay how the chose, so Sainsbury’s was forced to install manned tills into the store.