- Ahold Delhaize’s Albert Heijn grocery chain is piloting its 150-square-foot "NanoStore" at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the fourth busiest international airport in the world, according to a press release.
- The portable store, engineered by technology company AiFi, is open now through January at the airport's Jan Dallaert Square area. It was transported on a trailer from its original test location at Albert Heijn's headquarters, where it opened in September.
- Shoppers have to use a debit card at the door to gain entry to the store. Then they can shop for products and just walk out. Upon exit, customers can verify their purchases against the receipt. No cash is accepted.
Albert Heijn first unveiled the fully digital store under its AH To Go name in September at its headquarters in Zaandam in the Netherlands, where it was open only to employees. The move to Schiphol Airport gives the company an opportunity to pilot the technology with consumers in a highly trafficked area.
The new location should stress-test the NanoStore's technology and provide valuable data that can further inform the project. In a statement, AiFi CEO Steve Gu noted the high volume of busy travelers going through Amsterdam who are conscious of time and often need food and drink.
"This speaks to the original design thinking behind NanoStore: to make a plug-and-play modular store so it can be easily placed and moved where people need it the most," Gu said.
Ahold Delhaize has been focused on developing checkout-free innovations in recent months. In addition to the NanoStore, the company opened another small format store called Lunchbox at its Retail Business Services headquarters in Massachusetts, featuring a new "frictionless" technology developed by the support division along with technology firm UST Global. Ahold Delhaize also offers 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.
Long checkout lines are a major a pain point for retailers, and grocers across the globe are trying out checkout-free technology to reduce friction in the checkout experience. Giant Eagle is piloting new technology in one U.S. location with Grabango, while U.K.-based Tesco has invested in Trigo Vision and is testing the technology in a store at its headquarters.