Sunlight illuminates a Tesco extra sign outside a supermarket store operated by Tesco Plc in Prague. (Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg)

Tesco Tests Out How Customers Can Pay for Shopping Without a Checkout

(Bloomberg) -- Tesco Plc is testing checkout-free shopping technology in a bid to keep pace with Amazon.com Inc.

About 100 employees of the U.K.’s largest retailer are trialing an app that would allow customers to use their phones to scan groceries and pay for them. The technology is being tested at a store at the company’s headquarters near London.

“In our stores in central London, Manchester and Birmingham, lunchtime queues are a problem,” Tesco Chief Executive Officer Dave Lewis said at a presentation Thursday. “Anything we can do to speed that up will be a benefit for customers.”

Grocery chains are upgrading technology in an effort to make shopping in stores more convenient and competitive with online purchasing, with Amazon Go stores -- which use hundreds of cameras and sensors on shelves to dispense with the need for checkouts -- setting the pace. Walmart Inc. has inserted automated towers in hundreds of U.S. stores to allow shoppers to easily retrieve click-and-collect orders, while U.K. grocer J Sainsbury Plc offers dedicated checkouts to shoppers paying via its proprietary app.

Lewis said Tesco’s technology is in early stages, and the company is still figuring out how it could be introduced at some of its 1,800 U.K. express stores without increasing theft.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.