Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK, is developing checkout-free technology in some of its stores that would enable shoppers to fill their baskets and leave without having to spend time queuing for a cashier.

In a move widely seen as a response to the rollout of Amazon Go checkout-free stores in the US and suggestions that the e-commerce giant plans to open its first cashierless store in central London later this year, Tesco has teamed up with Israeli startup Trigo Vision, the Telegraph reported.

Trigo Vision, which already works with Shufersal, the biggest supermarket chain in Israel, is said to have developed a system of cameras and shelf-mounted sensors that, using artificial intelligence, can tell what items shoppers are picking up.

Customers are then automatically charged as they leave, having added their payment details to an app – an advance on trials of scan-and-go technology that uses a combination of the Tesco app and a QR scanner.

In addition to the growing threat from Amazon, which is strengthening its ties with Tesco rival Morrisons, other competitors, such as Sainsbury’s, are running checkout-less options.

But while retailers clearly see the potential opportunities offered by the new technology and are prepared to invest in its development, they should also pay heed to a new survey that suggests consumers may be less interested in checkout-less stores than might have been thought.

According to exclusive research for Retail Week, which like WARC is owned by Ascential, half of UK consumers (51%) are less likely to visit a store they use regularly if it went checkout-free.

The survey of 2,000 shoppers, conducted by Walnut Unlimited, which describes itself as a human understanding agency, found more than a third (36%) would be “much less likely” while 15% would be “a little less likely”.

Just 5% say they would be “much more likely” to visit a checkout-free store, with another 10% saying they would be “a little more likely”, while 29% say it would have no impact.

However, the survey covered all types of store and revealed that consumers are generally more open to the concept of checkout-free supermarkets (49%).

Just over one-fifth (22%) of shoppers say they would like the option at department stores, while only 19% would value the option at a health and beauty retailer. And nearly a third (31%) do not want a self-checkout option at any type of retailer.

“A note of caution is essential,” said Amy Nichols, research director at Walnut Unlimited. “While cashless payments are possible (and valued) by many, others do not have access to the technology required or an inclination to use, therefore risk being excluded from the retail in-store environment of the future.”

Sourced from Telegraph, Retail Week; additional content by WARC staff