Albert Heijn experiments with cash register-less store

Albert Heijn tests cash register-less store in Zaanda, 5 September 2019
Albert Heijn tests cash register-less store in Zaanda, 5 September 2019Photo: Olivier Middendorp/Albert Heijn

On Thursday Albert Heijn is launching an experiment with a store with no cash registers. The store's door opens when you scan your debit card, and checkout is automatic when you leave - with no need to register for the service, scan products or download an app, NOS reports.

The Dutch supermarket chain is the first in Europe to test such a system in practice. The experiment will happen at the AH head office in Zaandam, only with Albert Heijn employees. Later this year, the small experimental store will move to another location where regular customers can test it.

"We have cameras in the store that record where you walk in the store, and therefore which shelf you stand in front of", Jasper Hoogers of Albert Heijn said to NOS. The cameras, in combination with so-called smart shelves, register what products you pick - also if you put a product back. In this way, the system knows which products you leave the store with, and charges your account automatically.

"This is a test", Hoogers emphasized - there may be mistakes. "We will try a lot of scenarios and see if the system is following properly." 

Cameras that follow you individually feels like much more of a privacy violation than the regular security cameras in stores. But the cameras in the experiment do not use face recognition, according to Hoogers. "The technology registers a person as a ball and a stick. The data is then deleted when the customer leaves the store."

According to Hoogers, the underlying idea behind the experiment is that customers increasingly want convenience "In this way we can introduce a store that can stand anywhere and can also be open 24 hours." But he doesn't expect this system will roll out in large supermarkets any time soon. "We are not working on that right now", Hoogers said. "It is now just about testing the technology in this store."