We’re testing our ‘Pay in aisle’ app in Co-op Food stores

Over the next 6 months we want to understand more about whether our ‘Pay in aisle’ app is a feasible and viable product for Co-op Food, and whether it’s desirable to our members and customers.

We launched it today in 30 of our Food stores.

Screen shot o

Which problems need solving and why?

User research told us people don’t like queueing (not surprising) but they find it especially frustrating when they’ve only got a couple of things to buy, for example a meal deal. 

Most Co-op Food stores are small and located on local high streets. We’re less concerned with being the place to do a fortnightly ‘big shop’ – we stand for convenience. But the problems we identified through our research contradict how we aim to function as a business. So now we’re trying to fix them.

Years ago, research was carried out elsewhere in the business and an app was built and tested in a couple of stores in Manchester. The latest version of the app is based on what we learnt from that project.

Features and their assumed benefits

The Pay in aisle app:

  • can be downloaded now and can be used without having to set up an account
  • can be used with Google and Apple Pay 
  • uses GPS to identify which Co-op Food store the customer is visiting 
  • can be linked to a Co-op Membership card 

Our hunch (and our hope) is that these features – and the way the app links to established external payment services – will mean the process of using it is relatively quick. This means for customers who want to skip queues at checkouts and self checkouts, the alternative of paying in the aisle won’t be an equally tedious experience.

We’ve tried to lower the barriers to using it by making it possible to use without registering. Users can go back and register later and link their Membership account to it. We need to know which store a customer is buying from so we can manage stock so the app asks permission to identify a customer’s location through GPS. There’s also the option to check into a store by scanning a QR code. 

We don’t know for sure, but we’re learning

Over the next 6 months while we’re testing the app with real customers, we’ll be listening to customers and colleagues so we can learn and iterate to make it better. We’ll also be looking at what the business data tells us.

We’ll treat Pay in aisle as successful if customers download it, use it, and feed back through the app. 

As long as it doesn’t makes things more difficult or slower for customers, that’s a mark of success. We’ll be looking closely at the amount of leakage (theft) in the participating stores and we’ll compare it with the sales figures.

If we can show that there’s a need for Pay in aisle, we’ll look at rolling it out to more stores. 

Try it

You can download Pay in aisle and use it in the stores listed below from the date shown. We want to hear what you think so let us know by giving feedback through the app.

Charles Burdett


Tuesday 23 July

  • Manchester- Piccadilly                  
  • Manchester- Spinningfields                                    
  • Green Quarter – Cypress Place           
  • Cardiff – Senghenydd Road               
  • Cardiff – Kings Road                    
  • Cardiff- Pontcanna Street               
  • Edinburgh – McDonald Road
  • Edinburgh – Morrison Street
  • Frederick Street – Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh – Dalry Road

Tuesday 6 August

  • Wembley- Olympic Way                    
  • Kentish Town – Fortess Road            
  • Westminster- Portman Square              
  • Regents Park – Park Road                
  • Great Eastern Street                    
  • Canary Wharf – Harbour Exchange Square  
  • Hackney- Cambridge Heath Road           
  • Westminster- Westbourne Grove           
  • Merchant Square – Paddington            
  • Holborn – Kingsway                      
  • Fenchurch Street – London               
  • London – Ludgate Circus              

Tuesday 20 August 

  • Clifton                                 
  • Scala                                   
  • Grantchester Street – Newnham           
  • Cambridge – The Marque                  
  • Shoreham – Ham Road
  • Southwater

5 thoughts on “We’re testing our ‘Pay in aisle’ app in Co-op Food stores

  1. Ben Brown October 2, 2019 / 5:46 pm

    This is a great concept. I regularly visit my local Co-Op to just grab a loaf of bread, meal deal, etc. The ability to do this without the need to queue would be awesome. I’ve used the Amazon GO stores in the US, and they’re so efficient. It would be good to have a similar thing here. It’s just a shame none of my local stores have this. It’ll be good to see this rolled out to a wider number of stores, or to a set number of users nationwide first, for testing.

    Either way, keep up the great work!

  2. benjaml March 31, 2020 / 10:55 pm

    I hope you roll this out nationwide! Love the idea of scanning and going in order to avoid the long queues. It’s especially important at the moment with the COVID19 pandemic! Please bring to our small stores in Mirfield soon!

  3. barry April 14, 2020 / 3:32 pm

    My local store has been pushing this for Six months – it’s a shame it won’t work on the current version of Android (10) which launched just after your trial started. Check the ratings on Google Play. If it worked I wouldn’t need to queue for and touch the possibly contaminated self service checkout or have to stand near a staff member at a conventional till.

  4. Joanne White April 19, 2020 / 11:58 pm

    Can you please roll this out across your stores ASAP? Due to covid-19 I’m now having to do my weekly shopping in a convenience store without a proper checkout to handle a ‘big shop’. If I could just scan things as I go it would be much easier for me and the staff and reduce social interaction. At the moment I’m having to put things in bags, unpack them at the till and then re-pack them from under a plexiglass screen which is a nightmare. Is much rather scan and pay as I go around. Thank you.

  5. grievenotlake May 30, 2020 / 10:00 am

    I’ve been loving the app, especially in lockdown but have a few issues. Not least the fact that I just typed loads of feedback only to be met with “Oops! Not authorised”, maybe cos I’m back home now.

    My main issue is that once or twice it’s frozen while scanning, or I’ve accidentally touched the back arrow (android phone — it’s quite a juggling act to load heavy bags and point at the barcodes and all that with two hands) and I’ve been dumped out of the app and when I go back I have to start from scratch. I was within a frustrated whisker of just walking out with £22 worth of stuff just now, but I patiently unloaded, scanned and paid before leaving.
    Surely there should be a ‘resume shopping where you left off’ option if an unpaid receipt was run up in the same store within a short space of time? (I’m an IT geek of 50 years standing, so I can see it should be possible). As it is, it either discourages use of the app at all or encourages shoplifting.

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