The UK gets its first checkout-free grocery store

Sainsbury's wants to get rid of tedious queues forever.

The days of spending your precious lunchbreak standing in line for a sandwich are increasingly numbered, as supermarket chain Sainsbury's has launched the UK's first ever till-free grocery store. The busy store in London's Holborn Circus has been given a mobile-first makeover, so customers can scan and pay for their goods via their smartphone, while staff previously chained to checkout areas are free to spend time helping customers on the shop floor.

It's not quite as ground-breaking as what's being done by Amazon with its Amazon Go stores. Here, customers just pick up whatever they want and a combination of sensors and cameras makes sure they're billed automatically when they leave the store -- Sainsburys' tech requires a bit of work by the customer. However, the popularity of self-scan grocery shopping in the UK means the process won't be alien to users.

The initiative uses Sainsburys' existing SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go technology, which is currently live in eight of its stores across London. In these locations, though, customers still have the option of making their purchase at a checkout. By removing tills entirely, Sainsbury's is making a clear push to get this new way of doing things over the line, and certainly marks the beginning of the end for traditional modes of bricks-and-mortar shopping.