- Ahold Delhaize has developed what it calls a new "frictionless" store technology that lets shoppers scan into a store using an app, select products and then walk out, according to a company release.
- The technology is currently on trial at a small format store called Lunchbox located at the company's Retail Business Services (RBS) office in Quincy, Massachusets. Shoppers use a proprietary app to enter and pay, and can select from an assortment of snacks, fresh foods and beverages. Up to 12 people at a time can shop inside Lunchbox, and to date the location has logged thousands of transactions, the company said.
- RBS spearheaded the projects' app development, technology connectivity and food retail operations while UST Global, a digital technology solutions company, provided artificial intelligence and developed the store's physical infrastructure.
Ahold Delhaize said its new checkout-free store solution, which coincided with a remodel of the RBS company cafeteria, is more efficient than other solutions currently operating in the industry. Lunchbox, it noted, took just six weeks to install inside the RBS office.
The new, proprietary solution from RBS could eventually transform Ahold Delhaize's U.S. stores and, if the company decides to license the technology, provide an additional revenue stream.
The Lunchbox announcement follows Ahold Delhaize's debut of a 150-square-foot checkout-free store located outside Albert Heijn's support office in the Netherlands. That location requires shoppers to scan their credit card before entering, select products and stand in front of a sensor to register their purchases before exiting.
Ahold Delhaize is testing other tech-enabled store formats, including a "tap to go" shelf solution at its Albert Heijn To Go convenience stores that lets shoppers pay for products using a card or mobile app. In the U.S., Stop & Shop says it will pilot an on-demand, autonomously controlled mini grocery with Robomart in Boston.
Many U.S. grocers have implemented scan-and-go mobile payment programs that allow shoppers to skip the checkout line. But interest is building in the sort of frictionless technology Amazon Go has brought to cities across the country. Earlier this year, Giant Eagle became the first grocer to pilot checkout-free shopping, implementing technology from Grabango at one of its convenience stores in the Pittsburgh area.
Given the data processing requirements and complexity of weighted items like produce and fresh meat, checkout-free technology is currently limited to small stores selling packaged goods. But that's set to change. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Amazon Go plans to expand beyond convenience stores and into supermarkets as large as 30,000 square feet.
Like other frictionless technologies developed by Amazon, Grabango and Trigo Vision, Lunchbox shoppers use an app for entry and checkout, which connects with PayPal, Venmo, Apply Pay and Google Pay platforms.