New app aims to turn smartphones into ‘mini checkouts’ for independent retailers

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O'Toole: convenience store first

O’Toole: convenience store first

A retail services firm has launched a mobile phone app that converts smart phones into cash registers.

Retail Merchandising Services (RMS), which employs around 800 people in south Wales, is currently testing the ‘Mini Checkout’ app in a Nisa store in Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire.

The app allows shoppers to scan items’ barcodes and directly charges their bank account, saving the time that would have been spent queuing in store, ensuring a more convenient, less stressful shopping experience.

After downloading the app, consumers are asked to input their bank details into a secure database. Then, when shopping, they can quickly pay for the items in their ‘basket’, using their stored debit card details. When exiting the store, shoppers then scan a generated barcode on their smartphone against an optical scanner to verify their digital receipt for security purposes. 

With fees charged by credit cards companies to retailers ranging from up to 2.5% per transaction, this technology only takes 1.5% of each transaction, with the remainder going to the retailer.

The app is being targeted at Britain’s 47,000 independent retailers, a market with an estimated annual value of £35bn.

Mini Checkout will initially be available on the Android operating system, with plans to launch the app on the iPhone in early 2014.

Chief executive officer of RMS, Peter O’Toole, said: “Mini Checkout has the potential to, for the first time, allow convenience stores in the UK to take the lead in terms of technological development.

“Major supermarkets may be launching similar apps in 2014, but Mini Checkout provides an opportunity for the convenience sector to get there first.

“Shoppers don’t want to waste time queuing, particularly if they are just picking up a pint of milk and a bag of crisps, so that’s why we think this technology is such a great fit for the convenience sector.

“RMS is dedicated to improving the shopping experience for consumers, and we understand the importance of that experience within convenience stores, a sector that grew over 11% in sales revenue in the last year.”

The first shoppers to use the app are now trialing it in Hemel Hempstead.

Kishor Patel, owner of the Nisa store piloting the app, said: “We will be trialing Mini Checkout with 20 volunteer customers on Android devices, to gain feedback and investigate whether this would be a successful method of shopping in store.

“Whilst the app is still in its development stages, we are confident that this will be a huge step forward for the sector. The convenience sector has the benefit of being agile and able to embrace advances in technology in order to gain competitive advantage.”

O’Toole said: “With the convenience sector estimated to be worth over £46bn in the UK by 2018, we believe Mini Checkout will revolutionise the way people shop in their local store.”