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Waitrose follows cashless store trend

Waitrose is set to become the UK's first major supermarket brand to operate a cashless store, where only card and mobile payments are accepted.

The shop in question will not be open to the wider public but will instead be situated in broadcaster Sky's new flagship head office building, at its campus in Osterley. The second smallest store in the grocer's estate at 1,400 sq ft, the facility will serve 3,500 Sky employees once the building work is completed this summer.

Five self-service checkouts in the store will accept credit, debit and contactless card payments, as well as mCommerce tools that use near-field communication technology such as Apple Pay.

The retailer met with groups of Sky employees to determine what they would like to see in their new store, and as a result of these meetings the company will focus on selling evening meals and food to go, including fresh sandwiches, wraps and sushi, as well as a selection of fresh produce, celebration cakes, freshly cut flowers and store cupboard staples. Bread and croissants will be baked each day, too.

Waitrose's director for convenience, Jackie Wharton, said: "Opening on the Sky campus is an exciting opportunity for us to respond to how customers wish to shop in this flagship workplace setting. 

"Our convenience model is now more flexible than ever, especially as payment methods and ranges continue to evolve, so we'll look forward to exploring other opportunities like this in the future."

The move by Waitrose to abandon cash in one of its stores comes after on-the-go food retailer, Tossed, opened two cashless restaurants in London earlier this month. Tossed is hoping the restaurants will speed up transactions and allow staff to focus on upping the pace of fresh food production.

UK Cards Association figures show that almost £4 in every £5 of spending at British retailers is now made through debit and credit cards, while contactless payments continue to grow in popularity. In January alone, some £1.1 billion was spent in the UK using a contactless card.

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