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Aldi launches grab-and-go test store in London

Discount supermarket brand Aldi has launched a checkout-free concept store in London to test contact-free shopping

Aldi has opened a checkout-free store location in London as part of its ongoing testing of frictionless shopping.

The supermarket’s trial store will continue the testing already undertaken by Aldi employees over the past few months, and will allow customers to pick up the goods they need and leave the store without scanning products or going through a checkout.

Giles Hurley, CEO of Aldi UK and Ireland, said: “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.”

Customers will use the Aldi Shop&Go app on their smartphone to check in to the location via a QR code, and will then be automatically charged for the goods they have taken once they leave the shop, receiving a receipt for their visit in the app.

The technology in Aldi’s checkout-free store, developed by technology provider AiFi, uses cameras placed around the store to determine which items have been taken, or put back on shelves, so customers can be charged appropriately.

There will still be Aldi employees on the ground to help customers if they need it.

Other supermarkets have dabbled with alternative ways to checkout in their stores over the past year, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic made people more cautious about contact with people outside of their household.

Following the lead of Amazon in the form of its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores, last year Tesco opened a checkout-free store in its already cashless Holborn location, and over the past few years both Sainsbury’s and M&S have been growing their mobile checkout propositions which allow customers to scan products on their smartphones and checkout without having to visit a physical till.

Aldi's first UK checkout-free store is located in Greenwich

The technology used to determine what customers have purchased seems to vary between brands, with Amazon’s stores claiming to use “computer vision” for this task, while Tesco’s GetGo stores use a combination of camera and weight sensors, and Aldi’s new Shop&Go stores using well-placed cameras.

For Aldi’s Shop&Go store, tech provider Yoti has also been involved in the process to provide the technology to enable customers to confirm their age via “facial age assurance” through the Aldi Shop&Go app so they can purchase alcohol or other Challenge 25 products without having to see a store employee.

Once a customer’s age has been verified through the Shop&Go app – if picking up an age-restricted product, customers visit the “verify age” tab in the app and scan their face, which is then assessed by Yoti’s artificial intelligence (AI) – the customer’s photo is deleted, is not seen by a human at any point during the process, and the only information shared with the retailer is whether the customer passed the age check.

Yoti has been in talks with several supermarkets about providing this technology over the last year as part of a government “regulatory sandbox” to test the use of biometric and other digital age identification technologies across the UK.

Aldi, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op are among those taking part in the regulatory sandbox, which is headed up by the Home Office and Office for Product Safety and Standards.

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