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Coronavirus has had a remarkable role to play over the last few months in accelerating the adoption of many new tech solutions, with the latest example being Steve Archer’s Premier store in Cheshire becoming the first UK site to implement a new ‘Scan & Go’ solution.

The result of a ground-breaking partnership between tech providers Jisp and Scandit and the NFRN, the solution combines Jisp’s Scan & Go app with Scandit’s computer vision technology which turns everyday smartphones into powerful barcode scanners.

The solution helps “convenience stores deliver the contactless service and digital relationships today’s customers expect”, say the partners.

The Jisp app enables Scan & Go shopping instead of queuing at tills, provides Home Delivery and Click & Collect functionality, and also opens up new opportunities for digital engagement.

The first store to implement the technology is Steve Archer’s Premier Hightown Convenience Store in Congleton which went live earlier this week. “Local retailers have played a significant role in serving their communities during lockdown,” says Steve. “The fact that our customers will now be able to simply scan and go in my store means that we can offer our customers an even safer environment.

“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.”

The technology was developed specifically for the convenience market and is aimed at the UK’s 46,000 or so convenience stores which have played a crucial role in helping communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. NFRN believes, however, that smaller retailers often struggle to market themselves to today’s ‘always-on’ shoppers, often lacking the skills, technology or resources to digitise and compete with larger supermarket chains.

NFRN aims to have 500 independent retailers using the solution by the end of the year, with the app enabling them to “deliver competitive and frictionless Scan & Go shopping“ that will allow them to compete with larger retailers head-on.

Paul Davis, Vice President of Sales at Scandit, says: “Independent retailers have always understood the value of convenience, but providing it has become harder in today’s digital-first environment. However, by embedding highperformance scanning technology into a mobile shopping app, stores can deliver the fast, frictionless service their customers have come to expect.”

In Steve’s store, shoppers simply have to download the app before they can start shopping immediately by scanning a QR code located on Jisp’s Payment Pod located at the store entrance. They then simply scan items as they move through the store then scan the displayed QR code at the Payment Pod a final time to complete the purchase.

The Scan & Go experience rivals the speed and convenience of contactless, self-service options available at larger retailers. NFRN expects the service to increase footfall and total basket spend and will help convenience store owners serve more customers, more quickly.

The app will also give retailers a direct, one-to-one digital relationship with their customers. Convenience stores using the app have the ability to market themselves outside of the store, strengthening customer relationships, loyalty and retention.

The app, for instances, enables retailers to hold weekly quizzes for repeat customers through their smartphones, advertise events happening in their local communities and offer unique deals and offers through the app.

“We want to give smaller businesses a bigger voice,” says Julian Fisher, CEO and Founder at Jisp. “So, we’re helping to bring independent retailers into the digital age by empowering them with technology only previously afforded by superstores. And, in the age of Covid-19, we want customers to feel safer when shopping with Scan & Go, spending less time queuing and more time enjoying the experience they get when using our app.”

NFRN National President Stuart Reddish says: “What we appreciate about the app is that it gives our members immediate digital access to their customers. Commerce has been moving increasingly online for many years, and Covid-19 will only accelerate this. The larger players have usually had the advantage when it comes to resources, but the Jisp app empowers us to digitise and provide a more modern customer experience. Shoppers can pay quickly and easily and, post Covid-19, this will satisfy their preferences for not handling cash.”