M&S checkout-free app

The app lets customers scan and pay for products as they go

M&S is trialling an app that allows shoppers to pay for items on their mobile phone without needing a checkout. The Mobile, Pay, Go app is being tested at its head office in Waterside, Paddington, London. 

The app is designed to help customers avoid queues at busy times by letting them scan and pay for products as they go, and then pay with a saved credit or debit card or Apple Pay. M&S plans to roll out the app to more stores later in the year.

The pilot began about three months ago. It was initially exclusively for employees, of which 1,000 have taken part so far. It has been made available to customers within the past few weeks.

The retailer has already adapted some aspects of the app in response to customer feedback, such as installing a packing bench for shoppers who opt to scan their items after collecting them rather than as they go.

Read more: Inside the checkout-free Sainsbury’s Clapham 

Mobile, Pay, Go comes as part of M&S’s push to become a digitally led retailer. This has already seen it announce it will enrol more than 1,000 staff into its own data skills academy, as well as join with Microsoft in a strategic partnership focused on testing the integration of Microsoft AI technologies into M&S’s customer experience, stores and wider operations.

“Our digital transformation is happening fast. We’re embracing technology because it’s helping us do a better job,” said foods manager at the Waterside store, Lauren Stratton. “Communicating the benefits of this project to my team has been crucial and in the short space of time we’ve been doing it they’ve seen this for themselves. For instance, it saves time on the payment experience, which means we can have more colleagues where our customers want them - on the shop floor - making sure the fresh sandwiches are out, ready to give wine recommendations, and able to quickly help locate the fruit & veg section.”

It also follows Sainsbury’s extending its own checkout-free payment technology trial a fortnight ago. Sainsbury’s is allowing customers at its Clapham North Station Local store to scan and pay for products using an updated version of its Smartshop app. Shoppers can create their shopping list, use free in-store wi-fi to scan items’ barcodes, and scan a QR code on the way out of the store, at which point their Apple Pay account is charged.