Aldi takes on Amazon Go: Supermarket is trialling its first checkout-free store in London where customers can pick up their shopping and walk out without having to pay a cashier

  • Aldi is trialling a new checkout-free store at an undisclosed London location 
  • Customers check-in, put items in a bag and automatically charged as they leave
  • It isn’t clear how soon Aldi will make the new store format available to the public
  • It is said to be similar in size and staffing to its Aldi Local format of stores

Aldi is taking on Amazon Go by trialling a checkout-free store, allowing customers to shop and walk out without having to pay a cashier. 

The discount supermarket chain, famed for its rapid scanning and fast cashiers, declined to say exactly where the trial store was based, only that it is in London. 

Like Amazon’s Go stores, shoppers will scan a smartphone app to enter, pick what they want to buy while walking around, and technology will track any items they pick up and charge their card as they leave the shop with those items. 

Amazon is slightly ahead of the game with this technology, having already opened a number of stores worldwide, including six in London. 

Aldi, the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket group, said that colleagues are currently testing the site and that further trials will be carried out by members of the public, although it remains unclear when. 

The discount supermarket chain, famed for its rapid scanning and fast cashiers, declined to say exactly where the trial store was based, only that it is in London 

Like Amazon’s Go stores, shoppers will scan a smartphone app to enter, pick what they want to buy while walking around, and technology will track any items they pick up and charge their card as they leave the shop with those items

HOW DO AMAZON GO STORES WORK? 

To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile. 

Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.

If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged.

If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.

Aldi, Morrisons and other stores are expected to follow a similar process when they launch the system. 

Aldi said the first concept store would employ the same number of staff as a typical Aldi Local, the smaller format stores in the chain.

Giles Hurley, chief executive officer for Aldi UK and Ireland, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Monday’s announcement follows Aldi’s launch of click and collect services last year, which has now been expanded to over 200 stores across the UK.

The firm has also made a number of changes to their stores in a bid to limit their climate impact, including introducing fridge doors for the first time.

It says installing doors in its new and newly refurbished stores will save the equivalent of over 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

The change, which follows a successful trial, will reduce each store’s energy consumption by approximately 20 per cent, equivalent to a carbon emissions saving of up to 20 tonnes per store each year. 

Amazon launched its chain of Go convenience stores in the US in 2018 and are now found in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, New York City and London.

In the UK the stores use the brand name Amazon Fresh, and use the Amazon account as the payment method when walking out of the store with the items.

It isn’t clear how the Aldi payment and checkout system will work, as very few details have been released by the firm, but it is expected to be similar to Amazon Fresh.

Aldi, the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket group, said that colleagues are currently testing the site and that further trials will be carried out by members of the public. It is expected to be linked to a smartphone app you scan, similar to the Amazon system (pictured)

Amazon is slightly ahead of the game with this technology, having already opened a number of stores worldwide, including six in London 

Supermarket chain Morrisons is also working on its own cashierless retail stores, that would let customers put items from shelves in their bag and walk out.

The initial concept, nicknamed Project Sarah, is a compact version of the store and is designed to be ‘transportable’ – which means the entire shop unit can be dropped directly into each location. 

The transportable design means it could be located in areas not easily accessible for Morrisons stores, such as university campuses or in train stations, as well as on urban high streets.  

It isn’t clear when the Aldi checkout-less stores will be launched for the public to use as it is still at the trial stage.

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