Cashierless stores are spreading as the technology begins to mature, with both traditional and non-traditional retailers taking notice. Ahold Delhaize is piloting a portable, cashier-free Albert Heijn convenience store in front of its Zaandam, Netherlands support office, while the Worcester (Massachusetts) Red Sox will open a cashier-optional souvenir shop inside its stadium.
The Albert Heijn store, which was opened in partnership with AiFi, is a compact 150 square feet that allows shoppers to make purchases without any need for checkout. Instead, shoppers scan a debit or credit card to get in; then, cameras determine the customer’s position while in-store sensors determine which products are taken off or put back on shelves. Customers are automatically billed for their purchase when they exit the store, with no need to register an account or download an app.
“This latest concept not only makes shopping very easy; due to its autonomous nature, this ‘plug and play’ store can be placed at locations where there is a (temporary) need for a small store, from offices or university campuses to residential areas under construction that do not yet have shopping facilities,” said Marit van Egmond, Brand President at Albert Heijn in a statement. “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 pilot location will only be open to Ahold Delhaize employees, but the retailer already has several cashierless concepts available to shoppers. Albert Heijn operates a checkout-free store that uses “tap to go” cards or a mobile app for checkout, while U.S. Stop & Shop stores offer the SCAN IT! mobile app for self-checkout.
Autonomous Stores Enable Faster Purchases
The autonomous Worcester Red Sox shop will sell snacks, drinks and souvenirs, leveraging Standard Cognition’s AI and machine vision technology to eliminate the checkout line entirely. The setup is designed to let fans quickly grab what they need and get back to the game with minimal interruption. The store is scheduled to launch in April 2021, and will be open every day regardless of whether there is a game.
The shop will leverage ceiling-mounted cameras to associate each shopper with the items they pick up. Customers will have the option to pay through the Standard Cognition or Polar Park apps, or by visiting a kiosk in the store to pay with cash or a credit/debit card. A traditional cashier will be available as well.
Standard Cognition already operates a cashierless store in San Francisco, where it sells a mix of food, cleaning supplies and general household and convenience store items. Neither Standard Cognition nor AiFi use facial recognition or biometrics in their technology, minimizing the risk of exposing shoppers’ personal information.