BWG, the company behind Spar in Ireland, has begun trialling new technology that allows shoppers to pick up a product, scan the barcode with their smartphone to pay for it and then leave the store without queuing.
The convenience retail group, which also owns Mace, Londis, XL and the larger Eurospar format, is teaming up with MishiPay to introduce its theft-proof self-checkout solution, becoming the first Irish retailer to do so.
London-based MishiPay's technology is already in use by a number of well-known retailers outside of the Republic, including sports goods retailer Decathlon, which has rolled out the solution across its 81 German stores.
The company’s solution automatically disables the RFID security tag on products that have been scanned, allowing customers to quickly purchase goods and exit the store, without having to come into close contact with other people or checkout devices.
BWG, which serves in excess of one million shoppers every day, is trialling the technology in two stores – Spar Cherrywood in Dublin and Londis Newcastle in Galway. If it proves popular, the plan is to roll out MishiPay across its network of more than 1,000 shops nationwide.
Popular with consumers
While the technology doesn’t quite match the scale of Amazon’s checkout free stores in the US, it is expected to prove popular with consumers locally, many of whom have already become used to paying for goods via their smartphones.
The self-checkout system market was already forecast to grow significantly over the next few years prior to the Covid-19 crisis, with research company Global Market Insights forecasting it would jump from $2 billion in value last year to more than $4 billion by 2024.
Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, that forecast now looks to be on the conservative side as retailers globally rush to introduce technology that can cope with social distancing rules.
MishiPay’s Scan, Pay & Go technology is entirely contactless and frictionless, even allowing customers to scan products remotely from home ahead of their visits and simply collect on arrival or have the goods delivered to them.
As well as allowing retailers to better cope with social distancing, it also allows them to place limits on the quantity of stocks purchased to stop hoarding and frees up staff from manned checkouts and reduces the friction associated with self-checkout kiosks.
The technology easily integrates with retailers’ existing IT systems without requiring any additional hardware, making it easy to roll out across stores.
While the trial is the first time the technology will be showcased in the Republic, it is also a first for MishiPay as the company has never worked with a client in the grocery and convenience space.
"The current pandemic has accelerated the need for consumer-facing businesses to embrace new technologies that make shopping experiences safer, quicker and altogether more convenient," said Chris Donnelly, IT director at BWG.
“We’ve been exploring a number of different advanced solutions to enhance the convenience of our retailers’ offerings and we believe this innovation represents the next great evolution of grocery retailing in Ireland.”