Food & Wine

Coles and Woolies to be check-out free in the near future

Coles and Woolies to be check-out free in the near future

A grocery executive has shocked customers after claiming that some Australian supermarkets, such as Coles and Woolworths, could be check-out free within ten years.

Coles head of commercial and express Greg Davis said to The Sydney Morning Herald that customers later this decade would be able to shop and leave the supermarket without going through a checkout.

"I have no doubt in the next 10 years, customers will be able to take the product off the shelf, put it in their basket, walk out and have it all paid for," Mr Davis said.

However, a Coles spokesman put a swift end to this idea saying that traditional checkouts make up “half of all sales”, but that the company is always interested in new technologies.

“We’ve seen technology transform the shopping experience over the past 10 years to make it more convenient and tailored to individual needs,” the spokesman said to news.com.au.

“Coles first introduced self-serve checkouts 16 years ago, and around half of all sales are still made by Coles team members scanning customers’ groceries at belted checkouts.

“We have trialled a number of new technologies to help our customers complete their shopping faster, however there are no plans to phase out the belted checkouts which remain a key part of our store offer.”

The check-out free concept gained interest after retail giant Amazon trialled the Amazon Go concept store that saw shoppers using the Amazon Go app to purchase items without using a checkout.

Customers were able to “take what they wanted and go” and there are now several locations across the US that offer this technology.

Amazon uses cameras, algorithms and weight sensors to figure out what a customer has added to their trolleys and customers pay electronically through an account linked to their Amazon Go application.

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Woolworths seem to have taken this interesting concept on board, as it began trialling the Scan and Go app at its store in Double Bay in 2018. This allowed customers to scan products with their smartphone as they walked through the store and pay in the app before tapping off at a kiosk in the self-serve area.

The technology is now available in 10 Woolworths stores, but a spokesman explained to news.com.au that self-serve and traditional checkouts weren’t going anywhere.

“We’ve been trialling new technology for those who want to Scan & Go but will always offer customers a choice at our supermarkets,” the spokesman said.

“We know many of our customers shop with us because they like the personal interaction with our team, and we respect that choice.”