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New app signals end of the supermarket checkout

Marks and Spencer is a long-established British high-street chain. Once primarily known for clothing, the chain also sells mid-priced groceries. Some of the grocery services are incorporated into main stores, whereas others are stand-alone Simply Food branded outlets.

The retailer is experimenting with a new app called ‘Mobile, Pay, Go’. This is designed to allow shoppers to pay for items without having to use a till or check-out. The mobile app enables users to scan products as they go about their shopping and then to pay for items worth up to £30 ($45) via a smartphone like the iPhone using Apple Pay or via a saved credit card.

The service will be tested out at six London stores. An earlier pilot at two stores, also in London, saw 20 percent of sales being made using the app, which equated to 170 items being purchased an hour, according to Marketing Week.

Sacha Berendji, of Marks and Spencer, told The Daily Mail: “Digitally enabled stores that offer a seamless customer experience are a crucial part of our transformation and our ambition to be a digital first retailer.”

Given that other U.K. retail chains, like the Co-op, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are running trials on similar apps – where shoppers scan items with their phone camera – the BBC has run an article speculating whether this signals the end of the check-out till staffed by a human. The article features an interview with retail analyst Natalie Berg who see the development as a sign of things to come: “This is essentially about levelling the playing field with online retail. So bricks-and-mortar retailers are now using technology to bring the physical store into the 21st century.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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