From China to the US – a Big Story About a Small Store in North-West England

By Paul Davis, VP Sales, Scandit

Question: what do the following websites have in common?

US retail site NACS. Congleton Nub News – a local news site from Cheshire, England. And Zhongguojinrongtouziwang.com, which if Google Translate is to be trusted, is a Chinese business title.

Answer: they all covered the same story this week. This one…

App provider Jisp, along with Scandit and the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), came together to introduce Scan & Go to UK convenience stores. 

The launch store was Hightown Convenience Store, located in Congleton, Cheshire, in the north-west of England. A typical English town, located south of Manchester with a 26,000 population, Congleton is also known for having the third-oldest rugby union club in England.

The above three publications are not the only ones who spotted a good story. In addition, the launch was covered by a range of UK retail sites and titles including Scottish Local Retailer, Talking Retail, and Retail Tech Innovation Hub.

This was followed up by plenty of activity on social media. And all of this coverage is understandable.

Keeping up with the big boys – convenience stores offer Scan-and-Go

Hightown Convenience Store is typical of over 45,000 convenience stores spread across the UK. They are a crucial part of the community and essential for many people, not just those who are unable to visit an out-of-town supermarket.

Their UK coverage is immense. Everyone uses them, and this has only become more true during lockdown.

It is not just a UK phenomenon. Stores like the one in Congleton are fulfilling a similar community role in other countries too. And some have adopted digital tools using Scandit’s barcode scanning software for smart devices.

Last month, PAC2000A, the largest cooperative in the Conad grocery group operating in Umbria, Lazio, Campania, Calabria and Sicily, worked with Scandit to simplify order picking for its home shopping service.

The solution, based on Scandit’s mobile scanning engine, helps staff and volunteers avoid wasting precious time passing items through the scanner once they have arrived at the checkout.

Instead, items are scanned during the order-picking phase. The app then generates a QR code that is read by the checkout scanner to produce a receipt quickly and easily.

Giving small retailers access to the latest digital expertise

Large supermarket chains are investing time and money investing in the latest retail technology, from Scan & Go to providing product information with augmented reality (AR). With digital expectations high from e-commerce, customers are coming to like and expect this blend of digital and physical shopping.

Smaller retailers have always understood the need to digitise, especially in today’s digital-first environment. But it is hard for independent stores to access the digital skills and resources of the large chains.

So mobile apps like the one built by Jisp and powered by Scandit barcode scanning software, can help redress the balance.

Hightown Convenience Stores owner Steve Archer said: “Purely and simply, this technology levels the playing field. My store will be offering something that has previously only been available at the big supermarkets.”

“So now we can show people we are positively enhancing our offering and it allows my little shop to compete with the big boys.”

Contactless Shopping in a COVID-19 world

Scan-and-Go shopping had been growing in importance as a way to make shopping more convenient – after Amazon Go showed the possibilities. But the advent of COVID-19 has taken this to another level and retailers are now accelerating and expanding customer Self-Scanning and Click-and-Collect services.

Now it is about minimising contact in-store – making shopping safer for customers and employees alike. Some things will remain after the pandemic has gone – we think contactless shopping will be one of them.

Retail is evolving quicker than ever. Today self-checkout is taken for granted. The first self-service tills were actually inspired by self-serve canteens, and it was revolutionary to have customers, rather than the shopkeeper, picking products off the shelves.

So with that in mind, here are a few grocery milestones:

From Memphis to Cheshire
  • 1888 – Coca-Cola creates the first coupon.
  • 1917 – first self-service tills open in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • 1967 – first automated till is invented in London (although growth only accelerated in the 80s).
  • 1974 – an Ohio supermarket scans the first UPC barcoded product, a pack of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum.
  • 2016 – first Amazon Go store opens, complete with cameras and sensors – so shoppers walk in, shop, and walk out.

These innovations are now part of daily life. So, you can see why people as far away as the US and China, might be interested in what has just launched in England’s north-west.

In the future, Congleton, Cheshire might be included in a similar sort of list. When Scan & Go became accessible to everyone.

Call or message us if you’d like to learn more about Scan & Go and how Scandit can position your enterprise for self-scanning success.