SAINSBURY’S is trialling a virtual queuing system that eliminates the need to physically wait in a socially-distanced line outside its shops.
Instead customers can join the line on a smartphone app.
They then wait their turn from the comfort of a car, coffee shop or home.
Sainsbury’s insists the system will not disadvantage people without a smartphone.
Supermarket staff can add those folk to the queue, it said.
The trial, which will run via the app ufirst, is a UK first and starts on Monday in five stores.
They are Uxbridge, Pimlico, Dome Roundabout in Watford, Leicester North and Newham Royal Wharf.
The aim is to help customers “stay safe, save time and shop conveniently in stores”.
Nigel Blunt, director of eCommerce at Sainsbury’s, added: “We’re always on the lookout for how we can make our customers’ lives easier using technology.
“We’re trialling a virtual queuing system which enables shoppers to hold their place in the queue using their smartphone and we will be listening closely to feedback from our customers and colleagues.”
The pilot will run until mid-August and test how customers respond as well as whether it helps employees to manage queues and the flow of customers in and out of stores.
Sainsbury’s believes the technology could also help it respond quickly in the event of a local lockdown.
The supermarket giant is also rolling out SmartShop Mobile Pay which offers till-free and contactless shopping.
Customers can use their smartphones to scan their shopping, pack it and track what they are spending as they go.
They pay for it through the app, without needing to go to a physical till.
The app is now live in over 75 Sainsbury’s Locals and 40 more convenience stores will follow this week alone.