Sainsbury’s finally gives in to contactless demand


In an age where your local off-licence has the latest contactless POS terminal; where the Transport for London network works with smartphones; where Tesco, Marks & Spencers and Waitrose all accept NFC payments, one giant remained an outsider – until now.

Sainsbury’s chief executive, Mark Coupe, said “I’d anticipate in the majority of our shops we’d get there [contactless] by Christmas,” in an interview with Buzzfeed News.

He admitted that he was surprised at how quickly adoption of the technology spread.

“Contactless has actually been adopted more quickly than we expected. “If you look back two years ago I’m not sure people were quite expecting the take-up that we now seen. We made the decision in the light of the best choice we had at the time. If I had my time again, would I have gone back and done it differently? Possibly.”

Tesco started rolling out contactless terminals as early as April 2014, Waitrose first trialled the tech back in 2012, when the contactless limit was only £15 and more recently opened a completely cashless store in Sky’s new headquarters in Osterley.

But Sainsbury’s has dragged its heels, despite suggesting at the end of August 2015 that customers would see the tech rolled out soon.

The lack of contactless capabilities has been a great source of consternation for a lot of customers who have grown accustomed to its inherent expeditious nature.

The chain seems to have been losing customers as a result of not accepting contactless payments.

A source actually told Buzzfeed that it was “slightly embarrassing” that the supermarket giant hadn’t contactless payments.

The power of touch

Contactless technology has already become a necessity in metropolises such as London, but whilst people were originally drawn to its convenience, there has been a secondary reaction. More and more people no longer make big weekly shops, instead electing to make more frequent, lower-value, food top-ups throughout the week.

According to the Office for National Statistics the average weekly household spend on food and clothes has been falling since 2010 and that has recently been spurred on by contactless, especially since the spending cap was raised to £30.

Recently, the American food chain, Pret A Manger, revealed that 65% of all card payments in their stores are now contactless and 58% of sales actually occur outside of lunchtime hours as people prefer to get breakfast on-the-go.

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