U.K.-based Barclaycard has started testing a self-described “pocket checkout” payment concept that allows shoppers to scan and pay for purchases using a smartphone, eliminating the need to visit a physical checkout station, the company said in a post on its website Tuesday.
The Grab+Go app is being tested by Barclays and Barclaycard colleagues in the staff restaurant in London, with additional trials in Northampton, Teesside, U.K., and at the Barclays U.S. headquarters office in Wilmington, DE, before an eventual public rollout to the company’s clients.
To use Grab+Go, users download the app, create an account and pre-load their payment details. They then use their smartphone camera to scan barcode on items they want to buy as they move through a store. When finished, they click ‘I’m done’ and walk out; payment is taken seamlessly and invisibly in the background and the receipt is stored in the app, the company said.
Well, it turns out that Anita Liu Harvey, vice-president of strategy and innovation at Barclaycard, set us up. When she spoke at the 2017 Retail Business Technology Expo earlier this month, she called the traditional checkout line a "necessary evil" that retailers and payments companies should work to eliminate — and now here comes Barclaycard announcing that it is testing such a service.
The company also seems pretty confident in the outcome of these tests if it already is pledging to pursue a broader public rollout in the near future.
"Checkout-free" stores aren't a new idea — the Amazon Go concept has sent many grocery stores and other retailers scrambling to figure out how to support that capability, while order-ahead apps from the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts are already heading in that direction. Just this week, Retail Dive visited the Chicago innovation center run by Avanade, in which frictionless checkout is one element in its "Store of the Future" display.
Still, paying for purchases without having to stand in line and wait for a store employee to scan items is not an area that any retailer or payments company really owns yet — even Amazon. Barclaycard's timing puts it right along the cutting edge, and it could move out in front of others if it is willing to quickly expand availability of this app and merchant support for it.
The company seems fairly certain where it wants to go with this app, but it may want to wait and see if tests back up the idea before it goes any further, As Usman Sheikh, director of design and experimentation at Barclaycard, said in a statement regarding the internal trials, “An important part of this trial will be getting feedback from colleagues, as well as the operators in the staff restaurants, to further develop the product and proposal. Once the final version is complete, it will be available to our clients to help revolutionize payments in their own businesses.”