(Alright, that’s enough. Ed)

This week, Sainsbury announced the opening of its first store with no tills. Till-free. Like that’s a good thing.  And so it should be.

Buses are “till-free”.  As are subscription-delivered goods like coffee, razors and make-up.  TVs and electricity are till-free.  I like them.

But why does till-free “work” for me, the king-like consumer?  Simple – no queues. No annoying till queues; no annoying basket-only lanes. Just choose-scan-walk out.

(Btw, don’t think I haven’t spotted it works for you, the retailer - fewer queues, more turnover and less staff - #winning)

So the theory is great… However, the execution burst my consumer-convenience, user-experience balloon.


Look how happy he is, using his app to shop!

So the theory is great… However, the execution burst my consumer-convenience, user-experience balloon.

To use our till-free store, please download our App” said the friendly retailer.

So I did. And here’s what happened:

Grocer: “Do you have the App?” – yes, I have your app

Grocer: “The new, different till-free shopping App?” – What? No. (So I then had to download that too)

Please log-in” – I tried, using my supermarket log-in.

We don’t recognise you” – yes, of course you do; It’s me. I’ve shopped with you for years. Look, I can even log into your website.

We don’t recognise you on the new App. Please re-register”. Really? Thanks for that.

Hi. Do you have a Nectar card?” No thanks, I haven’t got your loyalty card.

Then you cannot register and use our till-free store. Now leave.

Well, how is that progress? How is that “convenient”?  How is that customer-centred?

In that time, I could have visited a store with, say, a till. And bought some stuff.

So progress, in all its app-shaped brilliance, is only convenient if it’s convenient for ME.

(I could care less about your institutional shareholders).

A similar story with my new NHS Patient Access app, which promised to let me “order prescriptions quickly and easily”. Cool.  So, I tried. But then I got an error message. Now, I’m not sure if my prescription is ordered or not? Guess what I have to do now… Exactly what I would have done before your revolutionary new app-based “service”.

If user-experience (UX) is the new frontline for your brand, you’d sure-as-hell better make sure your users experience is user-friendly. Otherwise people like me (consumers, as we are prone to calling them) will try it and never try it again. And vent their frustrations about it, vocally and online.

BY ENGINEER Simon Stokes