Skip to main content

U.K.’s Sainsbury’s first non-U.S. retailer to adopt Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ tech

Sainsbury’s is taking a big step with Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” solution.

Britain’s second-largest supermarket retailer is the first third-party international retailer to use Amazon’s autonomous checkout technology.

Sainsbury’s has opened a convenience store called “SmartShop Pick & Go” in London’s Holborn Circus district. The location leverages Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning that enables shoppers to shop the store, pick out what they want and skip the checkout when they’re done.

The opening marks the first time that Amazon has retrofitted a store with Just Walk Out technology, meaning it uses Sainsbury's existing fixtures and fittings with the Amazon tech. According to Sainsbury’s, it selected the Holborn location to use the technology because the store is primarily focused on offering on-the-go food and drink to busy local workers who want to complete their shopping as quickly as possible.

Amazon previously deployed the Just Walk Out technology in some of its Amazon Fresh grocery stores in London. It began licensing it to other retailers in March 2020, with Sainsbury’s being the first international retailer to utilize the platform. Within the United States, travel retailer Hudson has deployed a licensed version of Amazon Just Walk Out in its new contactless shopping format called Hudson Nonstop.

In another first, the Sainsbury's SmartShop app has been integrated into the Just Walk Out experience, marking the first time that Amazon has enabled a business customer to use its own app to manage store entry, exit, receipts and payments for shoppers. The integration enables Sainsbury's to leverage existing systems, while their shoppers are able to use the Sainsbury's app they're already accustomed to. (The Sainsbury’s SmartShop mobile shopping app is available in around 1,400 of the retailer’s stores, with sales up 173% compared to 2020, and the app’s mobile pay feature is available in nearly all of its convenience stores.)

Shoppers at Sainsbury’s SmartShop Pick & Go location first open or download the Sainsbury's SmartShop app and select the Holborn Circus location to generate a QR code on their phone. They then scan the QR code at the entry gate, take what they need from the shelves, and shop like normal.

The store has no checkout lanes and no lines, and shoppers have no need to self-scan any products as they take them from the shelves. When shoppers leave through the store's exit gates, they scan their app on the way out and the credit or debit card linked to their app will be charged for the items they took. A little later, shoppers will receive a receipt via email. Employees are available to assist customers and keep shelves stocked.

"We are always looking at new ways to make shopping easy and convenient for our customers," said Clo Moriarty, Sainsbury's retail and digital director. "We are excited about launching SmartShop Pick & Go, which offers contactless, checkout-free shopping to our customers, and are looking forward to hearing their feedback."

Amazon has also been busy expanding its own use of Just Walk Out in the United States. The company recently opened its largest yet Amazon Fresh high-tech grocery store equipped with the technology in  Westmont, Ill., and also features Just Walk Out in its Climate Pledge Arena facility in Seattle. 

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds