Retailer Spar International is making the final preparations to open the first cashless supermarket in the Netherlands at the Hogeschool Utrecht university campus tomorrow (Wednesday 4 April).
The initiative, which is known as ‘Skippen’ or ‘Skipping’ in English, will allow students who download the app to breeze in and out the store without queueing for a cash register. Customers who have downloaded the app, around 25,000 of them so far, will scan items into their shopping cart using QR codes before paying at the end with Tikkie, ABN AMRO’s online payment solution.
“Skippen is a shop-driven concept and comes from the desire to make customers even happier,” said Kyra van Elswijk, Smart Clients Manager at Spar. “Because the customer does not have to wait at the counter, the customer actually has a longer lunch break. The power of Skippen is mainly in the customer’s trust, something that has always been an important part of the formula thanks to the self-checkout cash registers.”
Spar University is a sub-brand of the Spar group with retail sites on university campus’. While providing a more tailored shopping experience for students, we can imagine the Pot Noodles supply is endless, this is also the site of trials and initial introductions of new projects. This is the first cashless store, but Spar University also got the ball rolling on the first 100% self-checkout site as well.
Launched in 2013, the 100% self-checkout store featured no cashiers. The cashless element, with customers entirely reliant on the app and digital payments, is the second phase in Spar’s development plan to make shopping simple, smart and fast.
The app itself was developed by Social Brothers, though Countr was brought in for the Point-of-Sale software, and Mood Media focused on the audio-visual customer experience. As mentioned before, ABN AMRO provided the payment solution.
While this is certainly an interesting concept, Spar is also heading into the world of personalisation and big data. By using the app Spar will be able to collect information on each specific user and therefore understand purchasing behaviour. Not only will this help the team make sure the right products are in the shop, but Spar has also said it wants to make personalised offers to shoppers based on previous behaviour. These rewards can be collected through the app.
There might be some in the world who are getting increasingly paranoid about handing over personal information, even more so when the last few weeks are taken into account, but students are much more accepting of new technologies. These are digital natives where the exchange of information for value is a normalized idea, and a demographic which will be much more receptive to free stuff. Not a bad place to tweak the bugs.