Enabled by computer vision and artificial intelligence—and with an eye on exploring how that technology can support a cost-focused, high-volume retailer in multiple ways—Aldi will begin a test of a frictionless shopping experience at a discount store in Utrecht, the Netherlands, the German retailer said Friday.
The store, owned by Aldi Nord, will operate without checkouts for a 12-month period beginning early next year. The high-tech store represents the first deployment in the Netherlands of sensors and camera technologies from the Israel-based AI store infrastructure firm Trigo. The system tracks all shopping movements in the store, and assigns them to the right customer, who can pick their own items from the shelves and be billed automatically, checking in and out of the store with a QR code scan from a customer app in the style of an Amazon Go store.
The smart app solution also offers customers the ability to manage their shopping histories, request necessary refunds, or provide feedback on their purchases, Aldi said.
“Digitalization must support our core strategy and make shopping even easier for our customers,” Kashif Ansari, chief strategy officer at ALDI Nord, said in a release.
Aldi Nord, which operates 500 stores in the Netherlands and controls the Aldi brand in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain and has a stake in the U.S. retailer Trader Joe’s, is a sister company to Aldi Sud, the brand’s U.S. parent.
Aldi was careful to frame the Utrecht store for its role as a “test under real-life conditions,” intended to show the extent to which the automatic payment process simplifies processes for customers and employees.
It added however that, important insights into future possible applications of the technology in the discount store are to be gained, including management and shrink control. The city center location is ideal for testing the system with a high customer frequency during the day, it said.
For these reasons, more employees than usual will be deployed in the new store in Utrecht, as many new processes will be implemented, Aldi said.
Trigo said it now works with five of the 10 largest retailers in the world, including a previously announced deal with the British retailer Tesco. The company is expected to announce a partnership with a significant U.S. grocer shortly.
“We are very proud to work with Aldi because the brand stands for innovation in food retailing,” said Michael Gabay, co-founder and CEO of Trigo. “Thanks to the technology used in the store, customers can shop conveniently while ALDI gets a better overview when it comes to merchandise availability.”
Aldi said data protection standards will be complied with in the process. The technology, for example, ensures that facial data is filtered out directly and not processed further.
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