SimplyFresh Oak Lane

It is understood to make SimplyFresh the largest third-party user of the tech in the UK

SimplyFresh is set to roll out Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology across three more independent stores this year.

The move will make it the largest third-party user of the tech in the UK, it is understood, with four sites overall, as the symbol operator “leads the charge on frictionless retail”, SimplyFresh COO Kash Khera told The Grocer.

It launched the tech for the first time last month at its LittleFresh branded forecourt store – its smaller format that focuses on food to go – at Gatwick Airport, owned and operated by energy company Gridserve.

It offers shoppers a “concise grab & go range” including sandwiches, salads, ready meals and a small range of groceries.

The tech allows customers to tap their card or mobile wallet upon entry. It then detects what they take from shelves, creating a virtual shopping cart.

On completing their shop, customers can leave the store without waiting in line, and their choice of payment method will be charged for the items.

Khera said the upcoming JWO rollout marked its “biggest innovation” for 2024.

While Amazon has also been steadily growing its own Amazon Fresh store footprint in the UK – with the 20th opening in November in Notting Hill – until now partners have mostly only rolled out the tech to single stores.

Sainsbury’s was the first retailer outside the US to deploy Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, at the supermarket’s SmartShop Pick & Go checkout-free store in London’s Holborn Circus in 2021.

The collaboration – which also marked the first time Amazon retrofitted a store with Just Walk Out technology – has gone no further, with Sainsbury’s still referring to the store as a trial.

A convenience store at the Excel centre adopted the technology in May last year, making it the first UK events venue to offer the e-commerce giant’s frictionless, checkout-free shopping.

The Market Express store was launched by Excel and its long-standing catering and hospitality provider, Levy, the sports and entertainment arm of Compass Group UK & Ireland. Compass, via its healthcare arm One Retail, also tapped the tech for its Market Express store at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which opened in November.

“This technology is a first in a healthcare setting and perfectly responds to the mandate for food and drinks being readily available for staff,” said Andrew Jones, One Retail, managing director at the time.

WH Smith also uses the e-commerce giant’s tech, but only overseas, having launched a checkout-free store at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in early 2022.

Beyond the UK, Just Walk Out technology has been used in stores on university campuses, at sporting stadiums, airports, convention centres, casinos and theme parks.