UK: Aldi to launch checkout-free ‘simply walk out’ store in London

Discount Retail Chain Aldi UK (German family owned) is trialling “checkout-free technology” at a store in London that allows shoppers to “pick up their shopping and simply walk out without the need to pay at a till” the discounter said.

Shoppers will scan a smartphone app on entry to the store, and after exiting will receive an email receipt and be charged automatically using their chosen payment method. It is understood the tech works by monitoring what customers take from shelves, without any scanning of products required, in a similar way to Amazon’s checkout-free Fresh stores. The location of the concept store in London would not be shared by Aldi, but the discounter said it was similar in size to a typical Aldi Local, and would employ approximately the same number of colleagues.

Aldi staff are currently testing the store and further trials are due to be carried out by members of the public. “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,” said Aldi UK CEO Giles Hurley. “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,” he added.

Aldi would not confirm exactly how the checkout-free technology worked, nor the provider of the technology. In April the discounter filed the trademark ‘Aldi Shop & Go’ with the Intellectual Property Office and this month applied to trademark ‘Aldi Go’. Both names are to apply to a long list food and drink and general merchandise, including the “operation of supermarkets”.

Aldi Süd, the German counterpart of Aldi UK, last year posted a call for expressions of interest from technology businesses on its website. The call said the company’s current focus was on sensor-based item monitoring in stores, which might include “equipping carts, shelves, aisles, ceilings or other store furniture/hardware with sensors. Alternatively, use of handheld devices or robots.”

Aldi Süd also wanted to hear from companies working on “computer vision-based product recognition” particularly in “the brick and mortar retail context”. Aldi’s “simply walk out” store trial comes as Amazon is opening Amazon Fresh “just walk out” stores across London. Amazon’s latest checkout-free store opened in Dalston earlier this month, its sixth location in the UK after the e-commerce giant launched its first physical retail site outside North America in Ealing in March.

Tesco is working with tech company Trigo and has launched a checkout-free store at its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, with a second store soon to start offering the shopping experience to the public in High Holborn.

Morrisons in July revealed it was trialling an Amazon Go-style store, open only to staff but with a public launch imminent. It is working with Aifi on the technology to enable the experience, which uses only cameras to detect what customers have picked from shelves, and not the use of sensored shelves as well, as is Amazon’s approach.


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