Canadian Grocer Testing 'Scan-and-Go' Technology To Combat Higher Minimum Wage

In another sign of the impact that a higher minimum wage is having on Canadian businesses, grocery store chain Metro announced that it is testing the same type of ‘scan-and-go’ technology being used by Amazon in an effort to increase automation at its stores and cut down on the number of people it employs.

The scan-and-go technology — still at the experimental stage — allows customers to scan items as they put them in their shopping cart and pay as they leave the store. Walmart has scan-and-go technology in some Canadian stores already and Amazon is also testing its own similar system.

Metro says it will run a scan-and-go pilot project at an undisclosed Quebec store. The Montreal-based company, which operates one of Canada’s largest grocery store chains, will also add more self-checkout machines, particularly in Ontario where the minimum wage was increased to $14 an hour on January 1 of this year and is projected to rise to $15 in January 2019.

Metro estimates the higher minimum wage will cost $35 million for its current financial year, rising to between $45 million and $50 million per year when the full Ontario wage increase is implemented. A wage increase of 75 cents per hour to $12 in Quebec will be less of a challenge, said the company in a statement.

Metro has automated self-scanning checkouts in 30 Metro stores in Ontario currently and plans to add them in seven more stores by the end of summer and six at its Food Basics discount banner in the next few months. The chain is also looking to mitigate increased costs by testing electronic store shelves, increasing automation at its new Ontario distribution centre and cutting hours at some stores.