Acceleration of instore digital adoption

Consumer adoption of instore digital technology has changed more in the last 10 months than in last 10 years. We have seen an explosion of technology adoption out of store but most adoption of technology has happened in a focused, limited ways linked to safety and convenience in store. That change is here to stay.

The use of self-checkout was a big winner, the use of contactless payment and debit card/ apple pay rose significantly and use of contactless mobile apps accelerated with M&S, Coop, Tesco Asda, and Sainsburys all accelerating rollout and growth.

  1. Self check-out was a big winner as it become a safer way to check-out for colleagues and customers.
  2. Contactless payment increased as the limit was raised from £30 to £45, and customers looked for easier and safer ways to pay instore.
  3. Digital payments using debit/credit cards and apple pay jumped with amount of cash in use dropping for the first time.
  4. The most significant trend that accelerated was consumer adoption of contactless mobile apps allowing customers to scan, shop and pay safely and conveniently.

Existing Scan-and Go platform provided foundation for acceleration

Scan and Go with terminal mature in larger superstores

Tesco, Sainsbury’s Asda and Waitrose already had a mature hand-held terminal customer Scan&Go product ( I worked on the early development of these). The cost of the terminal was always a limiting factor for retailers. Many retailers had beta versions on trial of scan and go with the customer providing their own terminal on mobile phone. The limit on adoption by customers was driven by the overall benefit not overcoming the barrier around trial and ease of convenience . COVID and a desire for safety fundamentally changed the adoption curve through a massive benefit around ease / safety of shop.

COVID accelerated development with clear focus

COVID created a real problem in stores around the tills and many grocery retailers accelerated rolling out existing apps and focused development to roll-out better systems. Consumers lapped up the benefits. Sainsbury’s and Tesco are the most advanced integrated systems, Asda accelerating fast but Coop and M&S apps launched and are also performing well.

How easy is it?

Consumers download the app, sign in through their loyalty card ( Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S & Coop) or create a new account linked to online deliveries (Asda). Once signed up they can scan items as they shop, pack bags in a systematic way, and when they get to the check-out they simply scan a QR code to download the basket from the app into the till and pay as normal. Fast, easy and less contact. Big improvements have been make in WIFI connectivity in the store, removing items not wanted, and an accurate running total of the basket, so avoiding the dreaded basket shock!

The future development

This digital adoption is probably one that will be here to stay, with extended periods of use by customers making it a habit that’s fully formed. Combine this with significant customer and operational benefits, it means retailers are focusing resources on development and roll-out/ trial in store.

Published by Andrew Mann

Managing Partner at NorthBailey. Having had senior marketing & insight roles at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Coop and M&S, I'm now using my experience & network to solve strategic marketing problems for NorthBailey clients

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