Aldi's groundbreaking checkout trial will change the way you shop

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·News Reporter
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Aldi has opened a groundbreaking new store in the UK, which is set to revolutionise the way its customers shop, with retail experts saying it represents the future of shopping in Australia.

The Shop&Go store, which is located in Greenwich in London, utilises AiFi technology so that customers do not have to visit a checkout.

To shop, customers simply download the Aldi Shop&Go app, which tracks items that are removed from shelves. Once customers have collected their items, they can simply leave the store without paying at a checkout.

The groceries are electronically charged to the customer's selected account, with a receipt appearing in their app profile shortly after.

The new concept store follows suit from Amazon stores that have recently been using the same technology internationally.

UK Aldi concept store that allows customers to walk out without physically paying. Source: Aldi UK
The store has been well received in the UK. Source: Aldi UK

Concept store signals the future of shopping

Aldi Australia did not wish to provide an official statement on the trial, but indicated to Yahoo News that there is no current plan to introduce the technology domestically.

However retail experts see value in the technology and believe it's only a matter of time before Australians will be shopping at no-checkout stores.

Gary Mortimer, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour at the QUT Business School, predicts that checkout-less shopping is the next logical step in retail advancement.

“We use our smartphones for more than making texts and calls these days; phones have become quite transactional and this is the next logical step,” he told Yahoo News.

“Aldi has not done a lot with their ecommerce offer in Australia and I think if this technology was brought into Australia it would be welcomed."

Plastic screens are pictured around tills in an Aldi store as people shop and check out. Source: Reuters
Australian Aldi stores currently feature manned checkouts, with no immediate plans to upgrade. Source: Reuters

Technology will make shopping faster, more enjoyable

Jana Bowden, Professor of Marketing at the Macquarie Business School - Chair of Ethics and Associate Editor of the European Journal of Marketing also predicted consumer satisfaction in Shop&Go scenarios.

“Consumers still want to enjoy their shop, they just want to do it speedily,” she told Yahoo News.

“This tech puts the consumer in the driver’s seat by giving them autonomy and engaging them while they’re shopping, it removes the idle time of queuing which we know can have a negative impact on consumers’ service perceptions and it improves flow within the shopping journey.

“It’s a bit akin to drive-through but for the grocery sector,” Prof Bowden said.

‘New normal’ has changed consumer expectations: Expert

Prof Bowden told Yahoo News that the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have greatly shifted the retail scape.

“Consumer anxiety around Covid risk and transmission has meant that consumers are now much more aware of high-touch environments. They have increasingly shunned cash in favour of contactless forms of payment. No touch is the new normal,” she said.

“They’re more aware of the time spent in retail venues with the average supermarket shopping trip shrinking. In and out is hands down the new consumer modus operandi of shopping."

An X5 group representative demonstrates a facial recognition payment system at a  self-checkout machine in a Perekrestok supermarket in Moscow. Source: Getty Images
Other international supermarkets, like this one in Russia, are introducing similar technologies using facial recognition and QR codes. Source: Getty Images

“But consumers are also tech-empowered thanks to the pandemic and the baptism by fire that it brought in terms of QR code check ins, apps, click-and-collect etcetera," Prof Bowden said.

“Tech innovations have been at the forefront of the pandemic shopping experience as retailers have raced to offer frictionless in-store experiences and that’s a trend that is only going to continue to grow.”

Prof Bowden also cautioned that customer experience and technological advancement must develop hand-in-hand.

“The key to the success of ‘Shop and Go’ and till-less check outs will be in walking the tightrope between delivering on smooth whilst not forgoing soul,” she said.

Competitors capitalising on new tech

Prof Mortimer told Yahoo News that major supermarket competitor Woolworths has been leading the pack in Australia’s technological retail landscape.

“Woolworths have been at the forefront of the technology by rolling out Metro Techs,” he said.

Woolworths’ Scan&Go technology utilises the Woolworths app and enables customers to scan barcodes with their smart phones as they shop, and exit the store via a specialised Scan&Go exit.

Outside view of the Woolworths Metro store at Swanson Street in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images
Scan&Go is now available for Everyday Rewards members at 42 Woolworths stores around Australia, including this Melbourne location. Source: Getty Images

The technology is available at select Woolworths locations and has gained the support of many Woolworths customers.

Prof Mortimer has told Yahoo News that convenience will be a large factor at play if all Australian retailers introduce Shop&Go technology.

“This technology represents great value from a time-convenience perspective, and from an operational perspective you can serve a lot of customers,” he said.

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