This blog post was first published to the giffgaff blog on Monday 4th December 2017.

Supermarkets have come along way over the years from everyone using cash, to many using cards and contactless payment devices and the introduction of self checkouts. Now they want to take this one step further. Introducing the scan, pay, go Apps and terminals inside our supermarkets.

How it works

Scan and Go 1

I have known about this service for a while now, but only recently has it come to my local supermarket. Heres how it works… You have a handheld terminal or you can use an app on your smartphone to scan products as you do your shop and put them into your bag, once you get to the dedicated checkouts your simply, in the case of Sainsbury’s, scan the QR code on the till, swipe your Nectar card, pay (with card/contactless only) and go.

Which supermarkets have it?

Scan and Go 2

I’m aware of Tesco and Sainsbury’s having this service but only in selected stores, so check their Apps and website to see if your store has the scan as you go service. I also came across the handheld terminals in a large ASDA store the other day, ASDA doesn’t currently have an App so you have to use the in-store handheld scanners, they also don’t have a reward card like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, so you have to sign up with a phone number instore to get going with the system. You can download the Tesco Scan as you Shop and the Sainsbury’s SmartShop Apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Why use it?

Scan and Go 3

I think this kind of system is very useful, they allow you to see a running total of how much the shop is costing you as your scanning items. As these systems are rather new not a lot of people are aware of them or use them, so most of the time you have the scan and go payment area to yourself. It also saves the whole “Unexpected item in the bagging area, please remove this item before continuing” fun of the self-checkouts. In my experience, it is a lot quicker than using normal checkouts and even the self-checkouts. However, It did seem a little overkill when all I bought the other day was a 45p bread roll using the SmartShop App and Apple Pay.


Scan and Go 4

Obviously, when you put people in charge of their own shopping there are a few things for the supermarkets to consider from a security point of view. Stealing is the obvious one, with Tesco you need to have a Clubcard and with Sainsbury’s you need to have a Nectar card, these have your name, address, etc. They also have random rescans, the system picks at random a shop to rescan where a member of staff will make sure all the items have been scanned. In the case of my local Sainsbury’s they also have barriers at the exit of the SmartShop area that will go off if an item with a security tag still attached goes though it. The supermarkets have probably factored in a certain percentage of theft and decided to scan as you go is still worth doing.

My Experience

Scan and Go 5

I have really like the idea of these systems and have been using the Sainsbury’s SmartShop App for a few weeks now since it came to my local store. I have also seen a few people around the store using their phones or the handheld terminals to scan items, so they are being used. I have never had the scanner or system crash on me and in the around ten times I’ve used it and I have only had one rescan requested. I pay for everything by either card or Apple Pay so the service is limited to card payments only is no problem for me. I really enjoy it and I recommend you all try these systems out if they are available in your store and decide for yourself.

The Future

Scan and Go 6

This is the first step to a truly autonomous shop, Amazon is trialling Amazon Go where you can walk in store a store, scan your Amazon App, pick up the items you need, put them in your bag and simply walk out. Amazon uses its Just Walk Out Technology to automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you just walk out. Amazon will then charge your Amazon account and send the receipt to the App. Amazon Go is currently open to Amazon employees in a Beta program, but they hope to open it to the public soon.


We are moving to a time where we as consumers are taking control of more and more of the shopping experience ourselves. You can go into an Apple Store these days and scan accessories with your iPhone, pay with Apple Pay and simply walk out. A similar system is being put together by Amazon as mentioned above. I think for my generation and the generations to come this will be very normal. But we are a little way of full automation of the purchasing process as there are still a large number of consumers who don’t like self-checkout/scan and go services, they prefer to buy products from a person. Ultimately though there will become a time where you have to use these machines, services and maybe even an AI robot taking your KFC order

I personally really like the age we live in, the innovation is coming thick and fast, seeing the old way of doing things being replaced by the new is exciting to me. Let me know in the comments if you have used any of these scan and go services and what your experience was like.

Thanks for reading,