Is Sainsbury's app scanner the future of shopping?

Sainsbury's shoppingNick Potts/PA Wire

The weekly supermarket shop can feel like a horribly arduous business. We forget that once we used to have to visit lots of shops, and carry our shopping for miles. Now we resent all the to-ing and fro-ing, filling the trolley, unloading it at the checkout, and putting it all back in again.

But a new app from Sainsbury's claims that it will put a stop to all of that.
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The app

The app enables shoppers to scan a QR code with their phone to check in when they first arrive in the store, then they can scan all the goods with their phone as they load them into the trolley. Once they have finished, they can simply take the trolley to a self-service checkout, and pay without having to bother unloading it.

Luke Jensen, Sainsbury's Group Development Director said: "Our innovative Mobile Scan & Go technology is fantastic for those wanting to manage their budget or simply those who want a quicker in-store experience."

To make matters even less painful, while you're wandering around, the app will show you how much you are spending as you go along.

At the moment the gadget is being trialed in three stores: a limited number of Nectar card customers have been invited to take part in Bethnal Green Local (convenience store), Clerkenwell Local (convenience store) and Tadley, Hampshire (supermarket).

Is this useful?

Once shoppers get the hang of it, it'll save them time and hassle in the shop. However, you may well pay the price for this convenience. Because you are handing over details of where and when you are shopping, you could easily become a target of specific marketing - which can easily tempt you to spend money you may not want or need to part with.

There are also concerns that if this is rolled out, with more people scanning their own shopping, staff at Sainsbury's could pay the price of their jobs too.

Is this the future?

It's a step on from the hand-held scanners which have been in some Tesco and Waitrose stores for ten years. So given that these didn't take off, why try it again?

It comes at a time when we are more used to using our mobile phones while we are shopping - so it may gain more traction. It is also a time when the supermarkets are racing to find the cleverest way to tie into the mobile shopping phenomenon.

There have also been reports of a similar type of scheme being trialled in Walmart in the US, and if it is successful it could be rolled out to Asda in the UK - which is owned by the US giant. Meanwhile, Tesco has announced plans to grow through its digital and mobile services. The supermarkets are certain that mobile phones hold the secret to growth - it's just a question of how it will work and who will get there first.

But what do you think? Is this a useful development, or a horrible marketing gimmick? Let us know in the comments.
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