United Kingdom grocer Sainsbury’s has become first international, third-party retailer to use Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology.
Amazon said Monday that Sainsbury’s has opened a Just Walk Out-powered convenience stores called SmartShop Pick & Go in the Holborn Circus district of London. The contactless technology integrates with Sainsbury’s SmartShop mobile app, enabling customers to scan items as they shop and pay without having to wait at the checkout line.
“I’m excited to share that we have collaborated with Sainsbury’s, one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.K., to enable a checkout-free convenience store powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology at their Holborn Circus location in the heart of London,” Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, said in a blog post. “Our work with Sainsbury’s means that they have become the first international business customer of Just Walk Out technology. The opening of the SmartShop Pick & Go also marks the first time Amazon has retrofitted a store with Just Walk Out technology, meaning the store uses Sainsbury’s existing fixtures and fittings with our technology.”
To enter the SmartShop Pick & Go store, customers scan a QR code via the SmartShop app, which is linked to a credit or debit card. Just Walk Out technology automatically adds items that customers take off shelves to their virtual cart in the app and removes anything they put back. Shoppers exit the store by scanning the QR code at the automatic gates, and their linked card will be charged for the items selected. Customers receive a receipt via email after they have left the store. Associates are on hand at the stores to assist customers and keep shelves stocked.
London-based Sainsbury’s noted that the Holborn Circus store was selected for the Just Walk Out technology because of its focus on grab-and-go food and beverages for busy local workers who want to complete their shopping as fast as possible. SmartShop Pick & Go carries an assortment of on-the-go food, candy, dairy, packaged meat and fresh produce, and the store houses a beer, wine, and spirits section. Store staff check IDs for alcohol purchases.
“We are always looking at new ways to make shopping easy and convenient for our customers,” Clo Moriarty, retail and digital director at Sainsbury’s, said in a statement. “We are excited about launching SmartShop Pick & Go, which offers contactless, checkout-free shopping to our customers, and are looking forward to hearing their feedback.”
Just Walk Out uses overhead computer-vision cameras, weight sensors and deep-learning technology to detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and track the items selected in a virtual cart. Kumar noted that the technology’s application at SmartShop Pick & Go blends into Sainsbury’s digital infrastructure at the store.
“Integrating Sainsbury’s SmartShop app into Amazon’s Just Walk Out shopping experience is new. It’s the first time we’ve enabled a business customer to use their own app to manage store entry, exit, receipts and payments for shoppers,” he explained. “The integration enables Sainsbury’s to leverage existing systems, and their shoppers are able to use the Sainsbury’s app they’re already accustomed to.”
SmartShop is available at approximately 1,400 Sainsbury’s stores, and sales via the app have grown 173% from last year, the U.K. grocer reported. In supermarkets with SmartShop handsets, 30% of sales are now generated through the app, over twice the level of last year.
Amazon launched Just Walk Out at Amazon Go stores and then offered it at the former Amazon Go Grocery stores in the United States and Amazon Fresh store in West London before debuting the technology at a new Amazon Fresh supermarket in Bellevue, Wash., this past June. The Bellevue Amazon Fresh opening marked the premiere of Just Walk Out in a full-size grocery store. U.S. Amazon Fresh stores also offer the multifunction Amazon Dash Cart smart shopping cart, which allows users to find items, track purchases and skip the checkout line.
In September, Amazon announced plans to bring Just Walk Out to Whole Foods Market stores, starting with new locations in Washington, D.C., and Sherman Oaks, Calif., slated to open next year. The technology also is offered at another six Amazon Fresh U.K. stores in the London area — accessible via the Amazon app — as well as at three non-Amazon venues in the U.S., including the Javits Center store in New York City, the Forum store in Los Angeles and the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
And earlier this month, Amazon and Starbucks teamed up to open the first Starbucks Pickup store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, with two more slated for the city in early 2022. Leveraging Just Walk Out technology, the outlet combines the offerings of a Starbucks cafe and Amazon Go convenience store.