Age Scan trial_Co-op Oxford Road_Manchester

Self checkout Co-op customers tried out Age Scan technology for the first time last week as part of a small-scale trial in four stores in Manchester. 

The tech, which is powered by Yoti, was initially tested by Co-op colleagues at the end of last year when it launched in a shop inside the group’s Customer Support Centre. The system is now being tested in a customer-facing environment at Angel Street, Oxford Road, Piccadilly and Spinningfields stores in Manchester.

The system, which is not facial recognition and does not retain images, uses an algorithm to estimate a person’s age in a matter of seconds. If the customer is deemed old enough to purchase age-restricted products, then they are able to go ahead with the purchase without the need for staff requesting to see ID. It is hoped that the tech will not only help to reduce the risk of underage sales, but also speed up the shopping process and reduce the risk of staff abuse that can be triggered by ID requests.

The trial will run until 30th June and forms part of The Home Office and Office for Product Safety and Standards regulatory sandbox. This provides an opportunity for industry and retail to test innovative approaches to age verification to improve or enhance compliance with the licensing objective to protect children from harm in the retail sale of alcohol products.

James Beane, operations innovation and continuous improvement lead, Co-op, said: “Co-op is carrying out a small-scale trial - which started last year in the store in our Customer Support Centre for colleagues to use innovative age estimation technology when purchasing alcohol at self-scan tills. This has now been rolled-out to four stores in Manchester. Shoppers can choose whether to use the technology – which is not facial recognition, and does not store or retain images.

“The pilot forms part of trials aimed at further improving or enhancing compliance with the licensing objective to protect children from harm by reducing the risk of under-age sales. Asking for ID can also be a flashpoint for frustration for some shoppers, and become a trigger for the unacceptable levels of abuse and anti-social behaviour faced by frontline shopworkers. In addition, we envisage this could make shopping quicker, easier and more convenient for customers, especially at busier times.”

Bestway Wholesale is also taking part in the sandbox and has partnered with Innovative Technology to pilot age verification technology.


Age Scan

Age Scan is a new feature being trialled on the Co-op’s self serve tills, provided by Diebold Nixdorf and powered by Yoti.  

  • With the customer’s permission, a camera takes an image of their face and uses an algorithm to estimate their age.

  • If the system estimates them to be old enough to purchase age-restricted products then they’ll be able to go ahead with the purchase without a staff member needing to come and verify the transaction.

  • If the technology thinks they are under 25, they will be asked to provide ID to prove their age.

  • Customers can opt out of using the camera and a member of staff will be asked to approve in the usual way.