Spar is looking to steal a march on its grocery rivals in Austria with the use of new self-service checkouts in its stores.

Although not a unique move when considered on a global scale, the convenience grocery chain is the first retailer in Austria to test the latest line of cashless checkouts from tech company, NCR. The machines are being deployed in three different stores in Vienna and Graz, with a view to being rolled out across the grocer's estate.

The target is to speed up transactions and filter customers through stores at a faster pace.

Spar's new cashless self-checkouts accept all standard credit and debit cards, as well as Spar's own payment card, and were used in a trial last month at the Spar store located on campus at the Vienna University of Economics.

Hans Reisch, member of the Spar management board, said that a modern retailer requires innovation.

"Our own digital innovation forum works with external partners to create unique technology solutions that benefit our customers and employees," he explained.

"The cashless self-checkouts are a prime example of a beneficial innovation. Right from the beginning, we achieved usage rates of 50% in our Spar market at the University in Vienna."

Spar was the first supermarket chain in Austria to introduce self-checkouts, and the retailer says that nearly half of its customers use the NCR technology across 23 locations in the country.

Alois Huber, managing director of Spar in east Austria, suggested that the new cashless self-checkouts will increase the speed of transactions and shopper flow through the retailer's stores.

"Students who use the self-checkouts, complete their shopping in just a few minutes and can return to their next lecture," he commented.

"We aim to create a fast and convenient shopping experience for our customers. Due to the high acceptance of the cashless self-checkouts, we are considering a roll-out to other stores in central, high frequency locations."

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