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Woolworths to test checkout-free shopping at Sydney store

Woolworths Group Ltd. will pilot a trial of a checkout-free shopping experience at its Double Bay store in Sydney, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Sept. 5, citing Paul Monnington, head of digital and payments at the Australian supermarket operator.

Through its in-house WooliesX digital team, Woolworths developed an app called Scan&Go that allows customers to scan and pay for grocery items using their smartphones, removing the need to go through a checkout counter.

The app will be linked to the customer's credit card and Woolworths Rewards loyalty membership, the report said.

Before leaving the store, customers who used the app to shop and pay for items will have to swipe their phone on a "tap off" pole, which will turn green if the customer can proceed to exit or blue if store associates need to check the purchases for restricted items, Monnington told the newspaper.

The final step is not strictly necessary, but it was included in the pilot test after research conducted by the company showed that some customers felt uncomfortable walking out of the store without some form of gesture that they have already paid.

The company said there are no plans in place to introduce the scan-and-go technology to other stores, but that it is hoping to learn whether customers prefer the checkout-free experience, according to the report.

The Double Bay store will still have regular checkout counters for other customers, the report added.

Other retailers that have launched similar initiatives or are working on making physical stores cashier-less include e-commerce giants Amazon.com Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., as well as U.K. grocer Tesco PLC.

Amazon recently opened its second Amazon Go store in Seattle, while Alibaba is continuing to expand its supermarket chain Hema, which lets customers shop remotely using a mobile app. Tesco in June said it is testing a new app that will allows shoppers to scan and purchase groceries using their smartphones.