Independent convenience stores are likely to leapfrog the need for self-service tills because of fast-improving technology, Ubamarket chief executive Will Broome told the Independent Retail Owners Forum last week.
The customer-facing Ubamarket app allows shoppers to pre-load shopping lists to quickly scan products and to use their phone as a guide around a store.
“I genuinely believe we have effectively leapfrogged the self-checkout till and the market will do so quite soon because self-checkout is cumbersome and expensive,” Mr Broome told IROF members at the event in Broadway, in the Cotswolds.
“You could repurpose self-checkout machines with a QR code in the middle to make the process super fast.” He said doing so would allow customers to bypass the task of scanning their items.
At present, shoppers have to show their phones at the till to check out and pay, but the app has the potential to allow “grab and go”, similar to Amazon software under trial in America.
Trials at Guy Warner’s Budgens stores in Moreton-in-Marsh and Broadway are in their final stages.
“It is at the cutting edge of loyalty,” said Mr Warner.
“Shoppers who are using the scheme spend around 30% to 40% more than other shoppers.”
Also speaking at the IROF meeting was Tim Chalk, former chief executive of 7-Eleven in Hong Kong, who urged local retailers to double-down on their ranges.
His top Hong Kong stores operating out of 500sq ft listed just 3,000 stock keeping units, 200 of which were changed every week.
“This creates excitement for shoppers,” he said. Retailers with 2,000sq ft often had areas where items were unintentionally concealed and they would improve sales by removing slow sellers, he said.
Loyalty schemes were a big driver of sales growth, Mr Chalk added. In Hong Kong they ran schemes 36 out of 52 weeks and those targeting women did best.
Scott Annan, founder of IROF, said the first event was a success. “Independents are realising that if they truly start to use customer data in their planning then they can be better than the major multiples,” he said.