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Aldi trialling its first checkout-free store in London, revamps delivery in Germany as it ups online ante

Aldi has become an unexpected front runner in the roll out of checkout-free retail in the UK, announcing a technology trial at a new London-based concept store.

The trial will allow customers to scan a smartphone app to enter the store, pick up their shopping, and simply walk out without the need to pay at a till. Shortly after their visit, they will get an email receipt and be charged automatically using their chosen payment method.

Britain’s fifth-largest supermarket says that colleagues are currently testing the store and further trials will be carried out by members of the public.

Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer for Aldi UK and Ireland, explains: “We are always looking to redefine what it means to be a discount retailer, and the technology involved in this trial will give us a wealth of learnings. We are really excited to be testing this concept that will enable customers to pick from our range of quality products, all available at unbeatable prices, then leave the store without having to pay at a till.”

The first concept store will employ approximately the same number of colleagues as a typical Aldi Local.

The announcement follows Aldi’s launch of click-and-collect last year, which is now available in more than 200 Aldi stores across the UK, enabling customers to carry out a full weekly shop online and collect their orders in store.

Aldi’s move makes it one of only a handful of retailers in the UK moving to customer trials of checkout-free retail, following Amazon’s expansion of its Amazon Go automated stores coming to London late last year. It now has six in operation

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-Op have all done early trials of ways to eliminate the shopping queue. Co-op’s Pay in Aisle App was launched in 2018 and Sainsbury’s trialled a cashier-less store in London’s Holborn Circus in 2019 and Tesco announced plans this summer for a public roll out of its first consumer-facing cashier-less store.

German online revamp

At the same time, Germany has revamped its online delivery business in Germany as it continues to expand grocery delivery. 

Rebranding its Aldi Delivers service to Aldi ONLINESHOP, the company is looking to offer a new look, uniform range, shorter delivery times and simplified functions for online shoppers. From now on, the discounter will offer themed sections mainly for electronics, lifestyle and leisure items. The offering will be adapted to seasonal occasions, such as Christmas, Easter, or the barbecue and gardening season.

Moritz Scheffler, managing director of Aldi e-commerce, explains: “Thanks to the theme sections, our customers will in future be able to find articles for a specific occasion bundled in one place in the Aldi ONLINESHOP. As with our stationery offer, our price-performance promise also applies online, of course.”

The new online shop promises what Aldi customers have long been used to in brick-and-mortar stores. “One of our essential basic principles is that we offer an attractive and at the same time selected range,” adds Kai Schmidhuber, managing director of Aldi E-Commerce. “We would now like to pursue this claim more digitally with a uniform range. We make a pre-selection of particularly attractive products for our customers and offer them for sale online.”

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