Coles Is Trialling Digital Coins on Its Trolleys, but It May Cost You Your Data

Coles Is Trialling Digital Coins on Its Trolleys, but It May Cost You Your Data
Image: Coles/Gizmodo Australia

Coles is trialling new tech that will require you to confirm via an app that you’re taking a shopping trolley for a stroll. The supermarket giant hopes to reduce the dumping of trolleys and reckons the feature is a move towards a more convenient way to shop.

Coles is trialling “coinless shopping trolley locks” in Middle Camberwell in Melbourne’s inner east, meaning customers will no longer need a coin to unlock a trolley, instead using a QR code linked to an app.

To use the service, customers will need to download the Coles sMart Shop app, sign up for an account, scan the QR code on the trolley, purchase a $2 coin and bam, trolley is yours to use. That $2 will be refunded once the trolley is returned to a bay and a Coles spokesperson told Gizmodo Australia that $2 will be there ready for the next time that customer shops.

“It’s hoped the technology will help minimise abandoned shopping trolleys in the community,” the Coles spokesperson added.

There are many shopping centres that use the gold-coin-to-unlock-a-trolley feature, and as it’s 2022, not having coins in your car anymore is all too common. Paying via your smartphone makes sense, as long as it’s seamless and your money isn’t held for too long.

Naturally, however, anything that requires you to enter your personal data (such as name, address and credit card info), should be met with a little caution. There doesn’t appear to be anything nefarious Coles is doing with your data, in fact, the developer of the app clearly states in the app’s listing on the Apple App Store that the app will use your name and email address. The Coles sMart Shop app does way more than the QR feature – you can build shopping lists and set reminders to bring your reusable bags, for example – but as you have to enter credit card details into an app just to ‘rent’ a $2 trolley, these considerations have to be looked at by both the user and Coles, too.

Supermarket rewards programs already have a tonne of data on your shopping habits, but you get rewarded by discounts and freebies tailored to your personal requirements. With this trial, you get to hire a trolley for $2 to complete your shop in their store.

The Coles spokesperson didn’t address my question on what data is being captured, but hopefully during the trial, the supermarket giant works out a way that will allow customers to have full control over their data – especially considering this is just to use a trolley – or even build something completely seperate from a ‘shopping’ app that allows you to simply check in and out with the trolley as we did when checking into somewhere being COVID safe.

“Customers who don’t wish to use them can speak to a team member to arrange a trolley to complete their shopping,” the spokesperson added. But this isn’t entirely convenient, and a lot of us wouldn’t want to be that person.