Original article from Kent Live
Tesco is set to open it's first checkout-free store – a state-of-the-art innovation which allows customers to pick items off shelves and walk out.
The “frictionless” shop is similar to one which online heavyweight Amazon opened in west London earlier this year.
Like Amazon, Tesco’s cashier-less store is likely to work by using a network of cameras and sensors that track what shoppers put in their baskets, reports The Mirror.
When they leave the shop, they are automatically billed for the groceries.
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Tesco has been trialling the concept at its head office in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The first one that will be open to customers is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks and months, although Tesco refused to reveal the location.
Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said: “It is leading edge technology but it is a learning curve.
“It will be a while before it is ready to roll out.”
It is the third major wave of automation to hit supermarkets – after self-checkouts emerged in the late 2000s, and 'scan as you shop' systems being introduced in many UK supermarkets in the late 2010s.
Amazon’s Fresh store in Ealing opened in March – the first outside the US.
The megacorporation is well known for it's cost-cutting automation practices, most notably the introduction of delivery drones, though these are yet to be rolled out, but it appears automated supermarkets may be the next new trend
However, experts have warned the new system of checkout-less shopping could hit jobs and wages.
Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said at the time of Amazon’s opening: “It is absolutely going to lead to a considerable reduction in roles for people at head office and in branches.”
The development came as Mr Murphy reassured shoppers that prices were not likely to jump, in the short term at least, amid evidence of cost pressures.
Suppliers are experiencing shortages of certain materials.
Mr Murphy, who said prices had actually fallen in the past three months, added: “We don’t anticipate any price increases.”
He also insisted the supermarket was taking measures in the face of an industry-wide lack of lorry drivers.
The announcement of the new store comes amidst reports that Tesco’s suppliers are being forced to bin nearly 50 tonnes of fresh food every week because there are too few lorry drivers to transport produce to stores.