Fast on the heels of Tossed, which opened the first cashless branch of its salad restaurants in London recently, Waitrose has become the first major supermarket chain in the UK to open a completely cashless branch – albeit a very small one!
Shunning coins and notes, the branch will only accept payment by card or mobile device at its five self-service checkouts – highlighting just how far the supermarket experience has changed in recent years when every till would be manned and cash was commonplace.
Unfortunately for many, the new store is being opened inside the new head office for Sky in Osterley, so unless you are one of the 3,500 employees that will work on the site, you won’t be able to try out the new store, which is going to be the second smallest Waitrose branch in the country.
I admire Waitrose – by eradicating cash the store immediately reduces issues around counting and transporting coins and notes, security and theft. However, cash is very entrenched in the way our society interacts every day – so while many of us are embracing contactless, cards and mobile, there are still many consumers and merchants that depend heavily on cash. I don’t think we will see larger branches going down this path for a good while yet.