Sainsbury’s Scan and Collect

Posted on September 18, 2013


sainsburys shop and goSo a while back just after Sainsbury’s (a supermarket chain here in the UK) announced their mobile Scan and Go service, I was worried about the usability of scanning with a mobile phone camera.  Then a couple of weeks ago I was told by David Stone, a mobile marketeer, that the service had been launched at a store that is local to me.  So I decided to go and try it.

the next Monday morning, I rock up to the Saver Center in London Colney, having downloaded the app to my iPhone and added in my details, they want your Nectar points cards details,  however you have to type them in,  rather than have it scan the bar code ! no worries,  it is only a few numbers.
The app says look for the Sainsburys WIFI and connect to this,  only, of course, no such WIFI exists.
However there was a dedicated Scan and Go staff member on hand*,  and he took my iPhone and selected the correct network and entered the wifi password.  Did not want to tell me the password.
Which is fine,  except of course, when he’s not there, then you’re going to be reliant on a 3G or 4G signal,  which in the interior of the store is about as good as none at all.
Ohhh and of course at the time I arrived, the system was off line for maintenance.  Strange time to choose 11 am on a Monday.  So back home, try again later.
(PS don’t tell my boss that I was having an early lunch break whilst working at home to try this out,  Shhh!)
Shopping with the app
Later arrived.
imageI returned in the evening last night,  the scan and go man was not there,  but I had the WIFI already,  so I was OK.
There is a little bit of rigmarole,  you need to login and then scan into the store,  and there are a couple of scan points on the entrance.
Once going you select your purchase, and hit scan. This starts up the camera. with a scan box on it.  You then have to line up the bar code and wait for the camera to focus.  On average this took about 5 seconds.  It was better if you keep the item a long way away from the phone, about 12 to 18 inches seems to work best.
I was consistently putting it too close (to fill the box with the bar code) only this meant the camera could not focus well enough.
It’s not hard, but it is a little fiddly, meaning I nearly dropped the phone a couple of times, and there is a log out button on the bottom left of the screen so on several occasion I was faced with the are you sure screen.  I think that button needs to be moved. your thinking,  hang on why would you be touching it,  Well because after scanning the item you then want to pack it in your bags, so you have the phone, the item and the bag to contend with,  and because the phone screen is active,  you need to make sure you don’t touch it, as your packing.
Talking of packing,  it’s interesting because the store is the wrong way round for packing on the go.
You see when you shop, normally you go round the store, you put the stuff in the trolley, and then onto the conveyor belt in reverse order, and then into your bags, this means that when you start at the delicate veggies/fruit,  these go first in the trolley, last on the conveyor belt and so on top of your bags.
when you pack directly into your bags, your packing the fruit and veg first, and the heavy drinks / household stuff last (because they are at the far end of the store,  come on keep up.) Not a fault of the app, but a side effect that means packing is more tricky if you don’t want bruised food.
Payment at the tills
The payment cycle is not too hard you scan the checkout’s unique code into the app, then press start on the checkout, and  it and the app sync and the items in the list are transferred to the checkout’s screen.  Then you continue as normal.  And no you don’t need to weigh your goods,  which takes out a out of the hassle .
Except I had to rescan my nectar card, even though the app has it registered! Grrr.
In Summary
Go do it if you can, it’s a good solution.
The app 
  On the whole it worked well,  it found items easily.
  However it was a pain getting the scanner to focus on the bar code, and 2 in 10 scans failed, average about 5 or 6 seconds to scan an item.
The juggling.
  Because the screen is active I found it tricky to handle the phone and the goods without pressing things on the screen.
The packing
  Go through the shop in reverse,  to make packing easier.
  Why can’t I have my payment details stored in the app, so I don’t need to have a card with me ! How lazy am I.
What I’d like, is a continual scan mode so I don’t have to keep hitting the small scan button to switch from list of items mode to scan/camera mode. There is room around the scan area on the screen to have a back button, and an alert space, see below.
I’d like an option for Vegetarian / nut allergy etc that will flag up if you scan an item that’s not nut free, or not veggie.  it can be hard to know if some things are veggie, as not all labels carry the V.
And of course I want to be able to build a shopping list in advance, and have the app help me find the items in the store.
And to do that I want to be able to scan items in the house that I need to replace.
I think a phone holder that sits on the handle of the trolley would make a huge difference.  because then you’d be able to just show the item to the camera without holding the phone.  Could even use the front facing camera ! how convenient that would be saves placing the item under the handle/phone.
Of course in an ideal world, I would enter my list into the phone, and then tell it I am 15 mins from arriving,  and when I do there is a trolley waiting with all the non-fresh items in it waiting for me,  then I can concentrate on shopping for the things that I want to choose e.g. fruit / veg, etc.  That would feed my lazy bug quite well.
What would you like Sainsbury’s to add ?
My other phone (I used the iPhone coz it is the most likely device to be used by real punters) has an NFC chip.  It would be great, that instead of having to scan the bar code with the camera,  that I could just touch the device to the price for the item on the shelf front.  Because RFID tags are read swiftly, and there is no faffing with focus etc. They already let you scan the shelf front for loose items such as bread rolls etc,  so should be possible.
*The London Colney Scan and go staff at the entrance, and those at the tills were all very friendly and happy to help.
Posted in: Apps, mobile, NFC