Aldi has opened its first checkout-free supermarket, with shoppers able to download a special app before being automatically charged for their purchases before leaving the store.
The system is being trialled at one Aldi shop in Greenwich, London, following similar moves from the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Amazon.
Rather than going to a till to scan items, customers simply use the Aldi Shop&Go app as they shop, with cameras tracking them as they move about the store. Yup, no more frantic packing at the checkout to try and keep up with the super-human speed of that fast-moving cashier.
But don’t worry, you can still pick up a crate of beer or a bottle of Aldi's infamous flavoured gin as facial-age estimation technology allows people to buy alcohol as long as they appear to be over the age of 25, with those who are unable to use it – or prefer not to – able to have their age verified by a member of staff instead.
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.”
Store Manager Lewis Esparon added: “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.”
Speaking to the BBC, retail expert Natalie Berg said till-free shopping was ‘only going to grow’.
Berg, founder of NBK Retail, said: "Retailers are in a race to offer the most frictionless in-store experience - in retail 'no touch' has become the new normal.
"Amazon was the main catalyst for this trend and the pandemic has really accelerated this."
She added that it was ‘interesting’ to see that Aldi has adopted this approach, as many discount supermarkets tend to ‘shy away’ from anything that adds costs to the business.
But Berg believes Aldi may see the till-less system as way of reducing labour costs long-term, saying: "There is a fine balance retailers have to strike between seamless and soulless. The danger with too much automation is that it can make stores feel cold and uninspiring.”