Aldi’s first ‘just walk out’ store, in which customers can simply pick up their shopping and leave without visting a checkout, opened today in Greenwich, London.

The culmination of nearly two years of development, ‘Aldi Shop & Go’ uses more than 330 AI-powered HD cameras to monitor every item a shopper picks up and puts down.

Once they have downloaded the Aldi Shop & Go app on a smartphone, and registered a method of payment in it, shoppers can tap to receive a QR code, which they must scan at a turnstile to enter the store. Once they have their shopping, they leave via another set of turnstiles, with no need for any further scanning. They are then charged for their shopping and receive a digital receipt via the app.

So, what is the shopping experience like? The Grocer visited to find out.

Aldi Shop & Go store front

Source: The Grocer

At nearly 5,000 sq ft, the store is said to be the biggest of its kind in the world relying solely on cameras to detect what customers pick up, with no need for additional hardware such as sensors on shelves.

Located in an area of high footfall, a stone’s throw from both Greenwich railway station and popular tourist attractions such as Greenwich Market, it might have been a reasonable expectation that some passers-by would be flummoxed by the app-only store.

In fact, shoppers seemed to take to the process with ease when entering, no doubt in part thanks to the gaggle of staff outside and inside the store ready to guide them.

For those who hadn’t yet installed the app, a QR code was provided on a sign at the entrance, enabling them to download it immediately, without having to search for it on an app store.

Staff also guided them through the scanning process to enter.

Aldi Shop & Go food on the go

Source: The Grocer

Although not called an Aldi Local, the store has more in common with the discounter’s smaller London format than its standard store. Food-on-the-go is positioned prominently, directly in front of the entrance turnstiles.

Like some Aldi Locals, it also lacks the discounter’s popular middle aisle ‘Specialbuys’. In the case of Aldi Shop & Go, it is understood it would be a challenge to constantly update the system to keep up with the frequency with which new Specialbuy lines are introduced (twice a week).

The store also shares its ‘pricing structure’ with Aldi Locals, meaning some products may be slightly more expensive than in standard stores.

Aldi Shop & Go alcohol

Source: The Grocer

An alcohol purchase requires shoppers to take a photo of themselves in the app to verify they look old enough before they can leave. The process didn’t work, despite two attempts by our tester, who looks well over 25. As a result, a member of staff had to verify our tester’s age.

Aldi Shop & Go fruit & veg

Source: The Grocer

Among an extensive range of fresh fruit & veg, filling one of three aisles in the store, there are a number of loose lines, priced per item. Aldi said the cameras could even detect the number of bananas in a bunch as a shopper picked it up. However, this also didn’t quite work when tested. Our  receipt generated by the app said there were six bananas: in fact there were five in the bunch. It’s understood accuracy will improve as the system is fine-tuned. Refunds can also be requested through the app.

Aldi Shop & Go cameras

Source: The Grocer

The cameras, on the ceiling throughout the store, are not relied upon to automatically detect the number of quantity-restricted medicine products a customer picks up. Shoppers must take a card representing the product and present it to a member staff, who will then hand them the product.

There is also a temporary cap of 50 on the number of shoppers inside at any one time, to ensure the system does not become overwhelmed. It is expected the cap will be removed within a few weeks.

As with the app-only entry process, shoppers seemed to take naturally to simply putting products straight in a bag as they browsed the store.

There was also little evidence of anyone confused upon exiting, again with staff on hand to help should they be required.

But not everyone seemed at home with needing a smartphone app to shop at Aldi. One customer was seen complaining at the entrance, before declaring “wants shutting down!” and leaving.