Aldi today opened its first checkout-free store on Greenwich High Street in London to the public, following months of staff testing. Shoppers can now buy from the discount supermarket without needing to scan a product or queue for a checkout.
Customers can use the shop by downloading the Aldi Shop&Go app, which they use to enter the shop, pick up the items they want to buy and then walk out. They are automatically charged for their shopping through the payment method they choose, and a receipt appears in the app.
The shop is built on AiFi technology that uses cameras to see what products customers have picked up. Those who want to buy alcohol or other restricted products can either use facial estimation technology from Yoti that confirms their identity in the Shop&Go app, or instead be age verified by a member of staff.
Giles Hurley, chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland, says: “Today is the culmination of months of work, not least from the team here in Greenwich and I’m looking forward to seeing how customers react to our trial.
“This store utilises the very latest in retail technology offering Aldi’s award-winning products and unbeatable prices to customers in a new and innovative way. The team are really excited about seeing customers come in and experience Aldi Shop&Go.”
Lewis Esparon, who manages the store, says: “I cannot wait to show customers our new Aldi Shop&Go store. We have been working towards this day for several months now so it will be great to see how our customers react to the new technology. For us, steps like this are always about improving the customer experience and the whole team are looking forward to being on-hand and ready to help to ensure that experience is as smooth as ever.”
Aldi follows Amazon and Tesco into the checkout-free market, while others including Morrisons are testing their own versions. But it’s still early days for the new format. Amazon has most checkout-free stores, at seven so far, but it’s not yet clear to what kind of scale it will grow.
Samuel Mueller, chief executive of data capture and barcode scanning business Scandit, says the move is not a surprise – but warns that retailers may find just-walk-out technology is best suited for small format stores and will not scale effectively to larger product ranges that need more explanation.
He says: “While retailers are waking up to the reality that the key to winning the omnichannel war is to leverage the device in consumers’ hands, they need to think carefully about how the transaction technology fits within the overall customer experience. We’re seeing many retailers turning to smart data capture and computer vision powered apps on consumer smartphones that offer a frictionless blend of digital and physical shopping. Consumers want the convenience and choice of self-scanning plus the ability to view real-time product information on their device before buying.
“The beauty here is that retailers bring all the benefits of online shopping into the physical store, without the need for a costly and time intensive store refit.”