Sainsbury’s is preparing to launch a checkout-free, shop and walk out ‘Smartshop Pick & Go’ store in Holborn Circus, London.

The store has been outfitted with “machine learning, camera and shelf technology” to detect what items a customer has picked up and put back, so they can shop and leave without stopping at a till.

Customers will scan in at entry gates using a QR code displayed in their SmartShop app.

“Once you’ve entered the store, we track every item you pick up with cameras, so there’s no need to scan your items,” Sainsbury’s explained on a new public-facing website for the store.

“When you’ve got all your items, you can scan out with the QR code on your phone and leave the store. We’ll then charge your card and send you a receipt within 24 hours of you leaving the store,” it added.

Currently the store – located close to Sainsbury’s London head office – is open only to Sainsbury’s staff.

pick and go

“We regularly trial new and convenient ways for customers to shop with us and we’re currently testing an upgraded version of SmartShop with colleagues at one of our Holborn stores,” a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman told The Grocer.

The coming launch of Smartshop Pick & Go follows Tesco opening its first public checkout-free store GetGo, which is also in Holborn, last month.

The area will soon be dense with shop and walk out stores, after The Grocer revealed Amazon plans to launch its seventh ‘Just Walk Out’ Fresh store just 120 yards from Tesco’s GetGo.

Tesco is powering its GetGo store with technology from Israeli startup Trigo, in which it has had an equity investment since 2019. Sainsbury’s said it had “partnered with a third-party supplier” for the Pick & Go store launch.

Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported this supplier to be Amazon, in what is the company’s first known customer outside the US for the technology that powers its Amazon Fresh stores.

An Amazon spokeswoman told The Grocer that “we don’t comment on rumours or speculation”.

On the website for the ‘Smartshop Pick & Go’, first spotted this week, customers are warned not to pick an item and hand it to someone else as “any item you personally take from the shelf will be charged to your payment card once you leave the store”.

It appears the store will employ staff, the website explaining there will be “a great team of colleagues…doing a variety of things such as helping customers and replenishing products”.