As part of an ongoing trial, this week saw discounter giant ALDI open a supermarket with a twist in the Netherlands: the new ALDI Shop & Go might look like your typical supermarket, but operates without any checkouts or tills, instead following customers via cameras and sensors in order to keep track of their purchases.

New cash-free checkout-less supermarket opens in the Netherlands

The concept may sound pretty wild, but the new ALDI Shop & Go is certainly not the world’s first till-less supermarket. Last year, Amazon made headlines around the world after expanding their checkout-free grocery store empire outside of the United States and opening one in London. Before now, ALDI had already opened a cash-less and till-less supermarket in the UK capital, and a few years ago, Albert Heijn ran a similar trial at one of their shops at Schiphol Airport.

Now, ALDI appears keen to follow in Amazon’s footsteps, working together with tech company Trigo, which specialises in AI technology for the retail industry. The till-less supermarket opened its doors in Utrecht on Wednesday, and could mark the first step towards the future of shopping. “Scanning shopping is now a thing of the past,” the supermarket said in a statement on its website. 

Is ALDI Shop & Go the future of shopping?

So, how does it work? While the experience in the store is hassle-free, customers do have to follow a few key steps to ensure they’ll actually be able to buy their shopping. Before going through the doors, shoppers must download a special app on their smartphone, set up an account, and enter their credit card details. 

Upon entering the shop, customers must scan a QR code using their phone. Then, as they move through the aisles picking up and returning items, hundreds of cameras and sensors dotted around the shop follow their movements and keep track of which products end up in customers’ baskets. The total bill is then calculated and automatically charged to the customers’ bank account when they exit the shop, and the receipt is sent to them via email. 

ALDI has emphasised that the system in place in their shop doesn’t use facial recognition or any kind of biometric identification, focusing solely on tracking the movements of shoppers while they’re shopping. While there are no tills, ALDI Shop & Go still employs a number of workers to ensure shelves remained stocked and to provide customers with assistance if necessary.

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