Morrisons are said to be close to unveiling an unmanned pilot store to the public “within months”, as they look to follow Amazon’s lead in modernising the approach to grocery shopping.
The store will rely on shoppers to scan their smartphones upon entry before having digital cameras follow their every step in store to check what they are putting in their baskets.
According to the Mail Online, the shop is going to be “transportable”. Meaning that the entire shop unit can be dropped in directly to each location.
This is thought to make the concept more accessible to non-typical Morrisons locations such as university campuses and urban high streets.
The move comes amid panic in the retail industry over the number of workers being alerted by the NHS app and thus being forced to isolate. M&S has said the number of workers being forced to isolate is rising exponentially and that they may have to reduce hours if shortages persist.
Tesco is also said to be working on plans to open a “frictionless” store. The two supermarket giants are locked in a battle to be the next mover into the concept after Amazon.
Amazon Fresh stores have opened in Ealing, West London, Chalk Farm, Wembley, White City and Canary Wharf to much fanfare.
However, their openings has not gone down well with the unions.
“We can use new technology for the benefit of shoppers and staff, but this is not the way to do it. All too often retailers are dazzled by new technology, chasing solutions to problems that don’t exist,” said Paddy Lillis, General Secretary of USDAW, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.
Morrisons are currently engaged in a bidding war, with potential suitors circling. Fortress are said to have had a £6.3b bid accepted, but face competition from Clayton, Dubliner and Rice, aided by advisers from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.