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Aldi opens first checkout-free store

Written by: Emma Lunn
The budget supermarket has opened its first checkout-free store in Greenwich, London.

The Aldi Shop&Go concept store on Greenwich High Street opened at 7am this morning for public testing, having been tested by Aldi workers in recent months.

The new trial store allows customers to complete their shop without scanning a single product, or having to go through a checkout.

To use the store, customers need to download the Aldi Shop&Go app, which will allow them to enter the store, pick up their items, and then simply walk out when they have completed their shop. Once a customer leaves the store, they will then be automatically charged for their shopping via their selected payment method and a receipt will appear in the app.

The system is provided by technology provider AiFi, using specially positioned cameras to detect which products customers have picked up, before charging them to their Aldi Shop&Go account when they leave the store.

Customers wishing to purchase alcohol, or other Challenge 25 products, will be able to use facial age estimation technology to authorise their purchase. This technology, provided by Yoti, enables customers to confirm their identity within seconds via the Aldi Shop&Go app. Those who opt to not use the system will instead be age verified by a store worker.

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.”

However, despite the convenience of checkout-free shops, not everyone is enthusiastic about the concept.

Dr Jackie Mulligan, expert on the Government’s High Streets Task Force and founder of Shopappy, said: “Checkout-free stores are sterilising the high street experience. Yes, they bring some advantages in terms of time savings, but they come at the cost of basic human interaction.

“Technology is the future but people need to play a part in it, too. If Covid has taught us anything, it is the importance of social interaction. Checkout-free stores may be suitable for some big grocers but social experience will be key if we are to revive our high streets after the pandemic.”

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