It is one of shoppers’ biggest bugbears – but it could be set to be a thing of the past. 

By 2021, Britain will no longer be a nation of queuers, because a quarter of UK retailers plan to eliminate the practice by adopting mobile payments so consumers can buy things quickly, easily and without hanging around, a new study suggests.

As they start to drop traditional payment methods, British retailers will increasingly look to give shoppers more convenient ways to purchase, according to research by retail consultancy Zebra.

Data from the company shows that traditional manned point of sale checkouts are waning in popularity, dropping from 71 percent to just 52 percent this year. While once a long queue was a regular sight in shops, the increasing use of ‘tap-and-go’ payment technology is set to transform the way consumers choose products, navigate their way around stores and pay for items.

“In five years, a visit to the British high street will be massively different from today,” said Zebra Technologies’ Director of Retail and Hospitality, Mark Thompson.

Retailers are set to put more power into the hands of shoppers, letting them pay with their smartphones as they browse, or by giving them ‘smart-carts’ with screens and a built-in scanning option.

The falling value of the post-Brexit pound and increased commodity prices are hitting some retailers hard, which is why increased use of mobile payment technology – which will save retailers money because they can get rid of tills – is set for rapid adoption.

Some UK retailers have already rolled out ‘smart’ payment methods. Shoppers at Waitrose, for example, can use Bluetooth-enabled hand-held scanners that allow them to upload shopping lists, scan items as they shop and be reminded of other goods that are nearby.

Consumers popping into a Zara store might not know that the retailer uses high-tech clothing tags that allow staff to know exactly where items are in the shop. This technology could be used to let customers scan and pay for items using just their mobile phones.

Separate research from Oracle Retail shows that other forms of technology consumers are interested in include virtual reality (VR). 64 percent said they liked the idea of using VR to enjoy a personalised in-store experience. And 58 percent are in favour of having retailers provide a shopping list for their approval, based on previous purchase history and social and environmental data.

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