Unexpected item in the bagging area

Experience has taught us that integration is something that is incredibly hard to get right at the first, second or third time of asking yet is the Holy Grail of most businesses actively competing in the modern market.

Naturally, introducing a new technology to any business is a painstaking and meticulous process which cannot and should not be rushed. The new tech would need to be intuitive to all users, interface with all the existing systems and provide a useable and enjoyable experience. Needless to say, some fare better than others.

Contactless payment has been with us since 2007. There are around 58 million contactless-enabled cards in use in the UK at over 147,000 terminals. This is a very well established technology with a serious market impact.

On the tube, in the supermarket or simply a quicker way to get in and out of Pret, contactless speeds us on our way with a smile and a wave, au fait with the hands free, wireless day and age that we live and breathe in. Unless you happen upon a Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s have recently introduced contactless payment to their self-service checkouts. “Marvellous!” I hear you say; if you are a regular in this supermarket, you’ve no doubt been calling for them to introduce this for years. Well, not so fast (literally)!

In order to make this technology work, Sainsbury’s has had to introduce a whole new system and user interface to their self-service checkout – I assume their previous system was too outdated to work with this ‘new’ technology – and in short, it’s terrible.

A far from intuitive display is compounded by a slow & clunky user experience. This lead me to think – as I stood there unsuccessfully pressing the ‘back’ button after the touch screen had mistaken my croissant for a cantaloupe- can integration be the wrong thing to do?

Sainsbury’s were enthusiastic enough to offer this technology to their customers that they pushed through a very sub-standard system… which baffles me. They’ve had since 2007 to get this right after all.

Perhaps a conversation to be had with their systems development team. Either that or go and talk to Tesco to find out who did their system!


Rob Smith spends his days working as a Pre Sales Engineer at Six Degrees Group, based at St Katharines Docks in London.

Passionate about tech and the way things work from a young age, Rob’s key areas of interest are around the inner workings of new innovations, the creativity that has gone into them and the problems they solve.

Find Rob on LinkedIn here

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