Germany's REWE Group is testing a new 'Pick & Go' technology in a market in downtown Cologne to enable shoppers to purchase their groceries easily and with minimal contact.
The pilot includes a select group of employees who will test the technology at the REWE store on Zeppelinstrasse.
The retailer plans to roll out the service late in the summer.
'Pick & Go' Technology
Customers opting to use the autonomous checkout in stores can register using the Pick & Go app, complete their shopping, and walk out of the store.
The invoice appears in the app, and in case of any discrepancies, customers can register a complaint via the app.
Shoppers can buy fruit and vegetables, dry goods, frozen products, as well as even freshly brewed latte macchiato through this feature.
Intelligent cameras and sensors in the shelves and other high-tech components such as servers, switches, and around six kilometres of high-speed network cables are at the heart of the system.
Customers are not personally identifiable on the images captured for shopping purposes, REWE added.
The Cologne store is one of the first supermarkets in Europe to enable hybrid shopping under real conditions.
Divisional director at REWE Group, Peter Maly, said, "With this project, we are once again proving that we are one of the most innovative companies in Germany when it comes to shopping in supermarkets.
"But that means more than a pure high-tech focus. For us, the shopping experience of our customers and the feedback of our colleagues in their daily work in the store are in the foreground. In theory, many processes and procedures can be simulated - but in the end, what counts most are the people, the interaction, and the personal feedback."
REWE added that traditional shopping with payment at cash registers is still an integral part of its shopping experience.
Stefan Weiß, head of sales at REWE, explained, "Customers appreciate the possibility of personal contact. Questions about products, the range, offers or advice on purchasing - all of this will be given more space in the future.
"And anyone who prefers to pay for their purchases in person at the checkout can do so at any time in this store."
The retailer has partnered with Trigo Vision Ltd, a company specialising in computer vision technology, for this project.
Trigo's solution creates a 3D model of a supermarket to digitally map the environment and movements within it, allowing customers to select items and walk out with them while protecting their privacy. [Pic: ©Bjoern Wylezich/123RF.COM]