Couche-Tard Is Testing A Store With No Cashiers In Montreal — Welcome To Your Robot Future

Just tap your phone and all your money will disappear!

Staff Writer
The QR code scanning zone in McGill's Couche-Tard. Right: The cashierless checkout system in the Couche-Tard.

The QR code scanning zone in McGill's Couche-Tard. Right: The cashierless checkout system in the Couche-Tard.

If tap-to-pay wasn't enough innovation for you, McGill's Retail Innovation Lab has launched a contactless payment system that uses cameras throughout the store to track your purchases, with no human interaction required.

The lab, which is also a functioning Couche-Tard on McGill's downtown campus, provides researchers from the Bensadoun School of Retail Management the opportunity to test new retail strategies in a real-world setting. It's one of the first "retail laboratory stores" in Canada to be open to the public, per the lab's website.

In a recent TikTok from the Desautels business school, someone demonstrates how the "frictionless," contactless payment system works. First, they scan a QR code at the store's entrance, which lets them download an app into which visitors put their payment details.

Then, it's as simple as walking around the store, grabbing whatever you like and pretending money isn't real. The store's cameras "will scan the product[s]" you pick up, according to the Desautels Faculty of Management TikTok.


@desautelsmcgill

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Finally, customers tap their phones on a checkout machine that validates the transaction. Then, you're good to leave.

It's not clear what happens if your payment method is declined, but presumably, the aforementioned cameras will help the Couche-Tard team locate you and collect their dues however they see fit.

After all, it's worth remembering that this store isn't much more futuristic — or voyeuristic — than most other retail operations in the world, which already use their free Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities to track your purchases and even how long you stand in front of the pickles.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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