Could we be seeing the end of long checkout queues at the supermarket?  Many supermarkets are now trialling new ways of paying for shopping.

Marks and Spencer are the latest food retailer to test a shopping app.  The app allows people to buy their shopping without having to use a till.

Called Mobile,Pay,Go, the app scans barcodes of items the shopper wants to buy on their phone.  Payment is then taken, via the app, and the customer is free to just walk straight out of the shop.

Other supermarkets launched similar trials earlier this year, including the Co-op, Sainsburys and Tesco.

Marks are testing the system in two stores and hoping to bring another four stores on board by Christmas with a view to rolling out the system nationwide during 2019.

Jim Cruickshank, head of digital development at M&S, said the company introduced the app to try to help people avoid queues at lunchtime.

“In 40 seconds, you could have done the whole thing and walked out.”

There are limitations to the app. It can only be used to buy food. There’s a limit of £30 and if you want to buy things like alcohol you still have to go to a till.

Then there’s the issue of how to stop people who might want to abuse it.

“It’s no different really to the self-checkout tills and our stores have a number of security measures,” Mr Cruickshank says.

“Lots of our products are tagged and the alarm will sound if you walk out without purchasing them. We have security guards and our staff will be doing spot checks so normal measures really.”

What do shoppers think?

There appears to be some different opinions from shoppers on whether it is a good or bad idea.

One shopper said she would be happy to use the app and doesn’t have any worries about data security.

“I guess it’s up to M&S to decide if they’ve got their security sorted,” she said – and as she can see on her banking app whether she has paid for something the second she has done so, “it works for me”.

“I’m not so worried about data because the stuff’s already on my phone. And if I haven’t protected it already I’m doomed.”

But another shopper isn’t convinced.

“I probably wouldn’t use it because I do my own self-scanning and I don’t like to give my bank account details out left, right and centre.”

‘Early days for this technology.’

This type of technology is still in its very early stages. It is in use in fewer than a dozen stores, across the UK, at the moment. But retail analyst Natalie Berg says it could be a sign of things to come.

“This is essentially about levelling the playing field with online retail. So, bricks-and-mortar retailers are now using technology to bring the physical store into the 21st century,” she said.

Amazon Go expanding stores.

We are not alone in the UK in looking at ways to change and improve the way we shop.

Amazon launched its first Amazon Go store in Seattle at the end of 2016, for employees only. It wasn’t until January 2018 that it was opened to the public, as it continued to sort out some technology problems.

It now has five stores opened and Amazon reportedly plans to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go locations across the United States by 2021.

They also reported the news stores are now even easier to use.

The stores use hundreds of cameras and sensors to account for what people are buying. People simply need to use their Amazon Go app to enter the store, pick up what they need, and leave. The items get charged to their Amazon account automatically as they’re exiting. The process removes the need for human cashiers and also reduces customer wait time.

There are reports it’s now scouting for possible locations to launch the brand here in the UK.

Natalie Berg says Amazon’s influence goes even further.

“When people think about the impact Amazon has had on the High Street it has a negative connotation; we think about boarding up shops and retailers going bankrupt.”

“But it can be argued Amazon has been a force for good. They’ve forced retailers to invest in their stores to keep up, to keep a really compelling in-store experience.”