Checkers trials South Africa’s first cashierless grocery store

PUBLISHED: Wed, 18 Aug 2021 20:10:23 GMT
Nqobile Dludla
Reuters
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    Customers pay for goods at an outlet of retailer Checkers in Cape Town, South Africa, June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

    JOHANNESBURG, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Upmarket South African grocery chain Checkers is testing a store without checkout counters, the first cashierless food store in the country allowing shoppers to walk out without waiting in line to pay.

    The new store reflects a strategy by Checkers parent Shoprite Holdings to use technology to provide more convenient retailing and monitor customer behaviour, the company said on Wednesday.

    The trial store within company offices in Cape Town has only 40 products such as snacks and sandwiches and will initially only be available to employees. Shoprite is still developing algorithms to recognise products and increase accuracy.

    Yet the trial represents a challenge to rival chains as Checkers aims to grab a bigger slice of the high-end food retail market, traditionally dominated by Woolworths Holdings.

    Read more: Shoprite group adopts unlikely strategy and goes upmarket

    In a cashierless store, customers scan a smartphone app to enter, then cameras and sensors track what they remove from the shelves. The retailer then bills the customer using credit or debit cards on file.

    Amazon.com Inc pioneered the concept through its Amazon Go chain.

    “The team has set out to use data and tech to solve retail problems,” Neil Schreuder, chief of strategy and innovation for Shoprite said.

    “The idea is… inspired by some of the global leaders in this space, that say could we imagine a store where customers don’t have to queue (at the checkout) because it’s a constant pain point.”

    Shoprite also unveiled a 250-strong digital business unit called ShopriteX to provide what it said would be increasingly enhanced customer experiences through technology, data science and innovation.

    (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by David Holmes)

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