Bold prediction about how Coles supermarkets will completely change

Brianne Tolj

All supermarket stores across Australia will be checkout free in 10 years, a Coles executive has claimed.

Greg Davis, the chief executive of commercial and express for the grocery chain, recently told The Sydney Morning Herald shoppers will soon be able to simply pick up their products and walk out of the store.

"I have no doubt in the next 10 years, customers will be able to take the product off the shelf, put it in their basket, walk out and have it all paid for," Mr Davis told the publication.

The shift has been prompted by the success of online shopping and self-serve checkouts, he said.

Pictured is a Coles checkout. Source: Getty
All supermarket stores across Australia will be checkout free in 10 years, a Coles executive has claimed. Source: Getty

Just 60 of 800 Coles stores were installed with self-serve checkouts in 2009.

"Now almost all of our stores have them and 50 per cent of our customers use them when checking out. It's the biggest visible change at Coles in the last decade," he said.

Coles announced in July it has partnered up with technology consulting company Accenture as part of its Smarter Selling initiative, which will save the chain $1billion by 2023.

“Smarter Selling will include increased automation of manual tasks both in stores and in support functions, faster check-outs, using artificial intelligence for quicker and more accurate stock ordering as well as reducing energy use, and smarter planning in distribution centres to improve availability,” a Coles spokesperson said at the time.

Instructions are displayed on the screen of a self-serve checkout counter in a Coles supermarket. Source: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg
Instructions are displayed on the screen of a self-serve checkout counter in a Coles supermarket. Source: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Coles follows world trend

Amazon Go was the first to introduce the scan and go system in the US.

Technology uses cameras and sensors to track what shoppers are putting in their bags before charging their Amazon account when they leave the store.

Woolworths introduced its scan and go policy in Double Bay, Sydney in 2018.

They have since expanded the initiative to 10 stores – nine in NSW and one in Victoria.

To use the system, customers need to download the Woolworths’ app and save their payment information.

Shoppers scan their items on their phone as they go. When leaving the store, they can scan the code on the app and skip the queues.

The app has a limit of a $50 purchase at Metro stores and $250 in supermarkets.

A similar concept has also been adopted by China’s Alibaba supermarkets.

Pictured is Woolworths' in Double Bay, Sydney, in 2018. Source: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
Woolworths introduced its scan and go policy in Double Bay, Sydney, in 2018. Source: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

‘Forced loyalty’

Dr Gary Mortimer, of the Queensland University of Technology, told Yahoo Australia he has noted the shift towards checkout free supermarkets, but does not believe shoppers are ready.

“I think what we will see is the scan and go technology being a third option in supermarkets,” he said.

Dr Mortimer said he believes staffed checkouts and self-scanners will not become a thing of the past because elderly and disabled shoppers may not be able to use the app scanner or will “still want that experience of having someone process their sales for them”.

“I also think there’s a component of shoppers that are concerned about job losses,” he said.

Dr Mortimer said a scan and go system would “create an almost forced loyalty for shoppers.”

Woolworths aisles at a Brisbane store. Source: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Woolworths aisles at a Brisbane store. Source: AAP Image/Dan Peled

He said customers are less likely to download three grocery store apps for their shopping and will likely stick to one chain if they have already installed the software and added their information.

Barry Urquhart with Marketing Focus told Yahoo Australia it is likely numerous stores will swap to only scan and go systems because shoppers are most concerned about convenience.

Mr Urquhart said the new technology will attract shoppers, especially those working in the city who are on a time crunch.

However, he said the move could mean bad news for banks with supermarkets “creating their own payment systems and credit ability.”

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