Aldi trials its first checkout-free store in London

Aldi is trialling checkout-free technology that will enable customers to use an app to enter the store, pick up their shopping, and walk out without the need to pay at a till. Shortly after their visit, they will get an email receipt and be charged automatically using their chosen payment method.

Britain’s fifth-largest supermarket says that colleagues are currently testing the store and further trials will be carried out by members of the public. The first concept store will employ approximately the same number of colleagues as a typical Aldi Local.

“We are always looking to redefine what it means to be a discount retailer, and the technology involved in this trial will give us a wealth of learnings,” said Aldi UK and Ireland CEO, Giles Hurley. “We are really excited to be testing this concept that will enable customers to pick from our range of quality products, all available at unbeatable prices, then leave the store without having to pay at a till.”

The announcement follows Aldi’s launch of click-and-collect last year, which is now available in over 200 Aldi stores across the UK, enabling customers to carry out a full weekly shop online and collect their orders in store.

Marcel Hollerbach, Chief Innovation Officer at product feed management platform Productsup, said Aldi’s plans for its first checkout-free supermarket are demonstrative of how the physical retail experience is evolving.

“Convenience is king and removing the hassle of a checkout line saves time and maximises efficiency for shoppers,” said Hollerbach. “Physical real estate remains extremely valuable if utilised correctly, and the retailers blending offline and online experiences to make in-store purchases easier and more enticing will prove the most successful. This is clearly a growing trend, and Aldi is following suit of rivals Tesco and Amazon Fresh, which both launched checkout-free stores across the capital in a bid to boost consumer convenience.

“Enabling the service via its smartphone app will also provide Aldi with more opportunities to track its customers’ purchases, thereby better informing its wider omnichannel strategy. This level of insight is invaluable and, if implemented more widely, checkout-free stores could revolutionise Aldi’s understanding of its customer base.

“To overcome the disconnect that is often seen between physical and digital spaces, brands must continue to embrace new technologies to avoid the pitfalls of commerce anarchy. In addition, Aldi’s decision to go checkout-free could help the supermarket attract new customers, further grow its profile among UK shoppers, and alter the brand’s reputation to one that is now digital-first, having previously been slow to embrace digital innovations in the way other supermarkets have.”