Dutch retailer Albert Heijn has announced that it is testing a mobile digital store designed to offer customers a 'grab and go' experience.
The retail giant has partnered with software firm, AiFi, and financial services company, ING Group, to develop the technology and payment solution required to execute the concept.
Customers can access the store by using their debit or credit cards and pay on their way out after shopping, without downloading the app or registering in advance.
The digital store bypasses cash registers or the need to scan products before making payments.
Elaborating on the technology, the director of payments at ING Netherlands, Roel Popping, said, "When the customer shows his payment card at the entrance, the door opens and the registration of purchases of products that the customer takes from the shelves starts.
"When the customer is ready, he stands at the exit, where he sees the total amount on a display. The payment is then automatically processed up to an amount of €25."
Once the payment is complete, the customer gets a notification and the door opens automatically allowing him/her to leave.
Convenient Shopping Experience
The store is fitted with cameras and sensors that detect whether a product is being taken or returned.
CEO and co-founder of AiFi, Steve Gu, explained, "Cameras see where you are in the store and which products you pick up. They will then be added to your virtual shopping basket.
"The combination of cameras and sensors ensures that it is possible to accurately keep track of which products a customer takes with them."
The cameras have been programmed to detect shapes and arm movement to determine the position of customers in the store. It is not equipped with face recognition technology to protect the privacy of customers.
The Pilot Project
The pilot store occupies an area of 14 square metres, and is presently located in front of the retailer's head office in Zaandam.
Marit van Egmond, CEO of Albert Heijn, said, "Due to its autonomous nature, the store can be placed at locations where there is a temporary need for a small store [such as] offices, university grounds, or residential areas under construction that do not yet have shopping facilities.
"A second advantage is that the store can always be open, which is useful for people who are on the road very early or very late."
The trial will be carried out for two months with Albert Heijn employees before moving it to another location, the retailer said.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.