September 5, 2019 – Albert Heijn is piloting a fully digital, 14 m² (150 sq. ft.) AH to go store, packed with technological innovations that make it possible for customers to buy something as if they were taking it out of their refrigerators, with no checkout or self-scan. The store is located in front of the support office in Zaandam and will be tested with associates in the coming two months.
Grab and go
Under the roof of the small AH to go is an enormous amount of technology. This is how it works: the door opens automatically with a debit or credit card. In the store, customers grab the products they want. Cameras determine the position of customers (without facial recognition) and associate product items to their virtual baskets. In addition, in-store sensors keep track of products that are taken off or put back on the shelves. When the shopping is done, customers walk to the exit where the payment takes place automatically and the door opens. Customers do not have to register in advance or download an app, which makes the payment system innovative and very accessible.
The store has been developed together with AiFi, a U.S.-based start-up. Dutch bank ING has developed the payment solution and takes care of payment processing.
Marit van Egmond, Brand President of Albert Heijn, said, “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. 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.”
This initiative is the latest example of how Ahold Delhaize brands are experimenting with new payment solutions to help customers save time at the checkout. Albert Heijn last year opened its first checkout-free stores, where customers can pay right at the shelf with a “tap to go” card or using a mobile app. Delhaize Belgium earlier this year launched a mobile payment application, called YesWeScan, which allows customers to scan product barcodes with their smartphone, add the items to an electronic shopping basket, and then pay. And in the U.S., Stop & Shop is offering frictionless checkout using the SCAN IT! mobile app.