Aldi has opened its first checkout-free store, where customers will be able to pick up products and exit without queuing to pay.
The discount supermarket’s new site in Greenwich, south-east London, which opened at 7 am for public testing, will also allow customers to purchase alcohol, using facial age estimation technology to check whether they seem to be over the age of 25.
The move follows in the footsteps of competitors Amazon and Tesco, who have both opened check out free stores.
Staff will use a series of hi-tech cameras to track customers as they do their shopping, and then bill them when they depart.
Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service.
The aim is to end lengthy queues in stores and could lead to more places opening.
Customers must register with Aldi’s Shop & Go app, which will allow them to enter the store, pick up their items, and then pay and walk out.
Aldi said customers wishing to buy alcohol will be able to use facial age estimation technology to confirm their buy.
The technology, provided by Yoti, allows customers to verify their identity through the app, but anyone who opts out will be age confirmed in-store.
Aldi UK and Ireland chief executive Giles Hurley said that it was the culmination of months of work, not least from the team there in Greenwich, and he was looking forward to seeing how customers respond to the trial, and he said that the store uses the very latest in retail technology.
Store manager Lewis Esparon said that they’d been working towards this for several months so it would be great to see how their customers reacted to the new technology.
According to The Grocer, the technology behind the system was created by Aifi which was used by several just walk-out stores such as Albert Heijn in the Netherlands, Zabka in Poland and Carrefour in Dubai.
When you go into a supermarket, just look up at the ceiling and you’ll see a huge number of CCTV cameras, and if you use a loyalty card, then the supermarket knows precisely what you’ve purchased every single time.
If you’re worried about supermarkets watching you and knowing what you bought, don’t worry this isn’t a thing of the past, it’s a thing of the future, but if people want to remain in the past, then they should just hunt wild animals in the forest and fish in a stream.
All the technology that we did have was done by humans simply watching you on CCTV, but this new technology is all automated, no humans involved in this one.
This might be more palatable for people to use, but for the more senior shopper who just doesn’t understand it, they’re left out in the cold, which is completely wrong because the older generation are the people that gave us the society that we live in, and I’m horrified that there are older people that are being disadvantaged and being completely and utterly shut out.
If you want to get followed around the store like a criminal, then go for it, but for me, this is a completely alien environment.
There will still be staff in these stores, and still a security guard or two, just no checkouts – welcome to the future where our future sucks!
We haven’t been gradually introduced to the 21st century, we’ve been dragged into it.
Facial age recognition. How precisely will that work with a mask on? What could possibly go wrong?