Retailers have raised security concerns about a new app which aims to bridge the gap between online shopping and the experience of shopping in-store.
Ubamarket rearranges the products on a customer’s shopping list according to their location in-store, tracks spend through a barcode scanner and enables payment through a smartphone.
The app is being trialled at Warner’s Budgens, with more than 500 people downloading it so far. It is set to be rolled out nationally across the HTEC POS portfolio of stores, which includes Budgens, Nisa and Spar, from 12 September.
However, Yogesh Patel, owner of Spar, Barrow, was one of several retailers who said the issue of dishonest customers was a huge problem for smaller retailers.
Kishor Patel, owner of Nisa Local, Houghton Regis, agreed, having trialled a similar programme two years ago. “We already have to consider security, but without a doubt it’s a risk. We are surviving on very, very tight margins whereas the multiples can still take a hit.”
The scheme, he added, was unsuccessful in his store, because customers still relied on counter-based services.
“Stores like Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local have got better structures in place than we have. If they thought this was a good idea they would have done it,” he said.
However, Shiva Pandian, store manager at Virginia Quay Budgens, Poplar, said he believed the app would be beneficial.
“Not everyone wants to spend their time in a store and those people can utilise this. It will provide customers with more choice in how they shop,” he said.
Anx Patel, tech entrepreneur and chief executive of GoKart, said the app would provide retailers with a new way of interacting with customers.
William Broome, chief executive of Ubamarket, said he hoped the app would streamline shopping and believes it can improve security.
All shoppers using the app, he said, have a digital footprint which can be traced, while anyone caught shoplifting can be banned from Ubamarket.