Dutch supermarket giant Albert Heijn has opened an autonomous mini supermarket that lets shoppers use their bank card to gain entry to the store, select items valued at up to the contactless card limit of €25 and then self-checkout — without the need to first download an app.
The self-contained digital shop concept is just 14sqm (150sqft) in size and can be transported for relocation on the back of a lorry.
It uses a combination of cameras and weight sensors to track customers’ purchases as they move through the store.
“When the customer shows his payment card at the entrance, the door opens and the registration of purchases of products that the customer takes from the shelves starts,” explains Roel Popping, director of payments at ING Netherlands, which developed the payment solution for the store:
“When the customer is ready, he stands at the exit, where he sees the total amount on a display. The payment is then automatically processed up to an amount of €25. The customer does not have to do anything else. He will be notified that the payment has been successful and can leave the store.
“The customer does not have to register in advance or download an app, which makes the payment system innovative and very accessible.”
“Due to its autonomous nature, the store can be plug and play placed at locations where there is a (temporary) need for a small store, from offices or university grounds to residential areas under construction that do not yet have shopping facilities,” Albert Heijn CEO Marit van Egmond says.
“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.”
A video shows the new digital shop concept in action:
The store is currently in front of Albert Heijn’s head office in Zaandam and is being tested by employees of the supermarket chain.
“The expectation is that the store will be relocated to another location in the Netherlands later this year,” the retailer says.