Aldi explores checkout-free solutions

Maxime Delacour
Senior Retail Analyst
@RetailAnalysis

Date : 07 August 2020

At the end of July, Aldi Süd launched a global request for startups specialized in computer vision and sensor-based products monitoring technologies. This could contribute to the fast track of Aldi Sud’s technological evolution and enable it to catch up with competitors, especially Amazon.

Looking for startups ready to test their solutions

Like other recent projects launched by the discounter, Aldi Süd uses partnerships to accelerate its technological and digital developments.

A bespoke website, entirely in English, which demonstrates the global nature of the appeal, has been developed for startups to register and submit their solutions and ideas.

As per the website, Aldi is looking for:

  • Innovative technology and solutions
  • Startups that are ready to test their solutions in real world environments
  • Technology solutions in the discounter’s current focus areas (Computer vision-based product recognition and sensor-based item monitoring in stores)

 

Source: Aldi

 

To encourage startups to apply, Aldi showcases its global network of 6,250 stores and the capacity to test the technology solutions quickly in a real retail environment.

The entire process includes three steps:

  1. Connect: application and selection process
  2. Build, measure, learn: development and tests in real world conditions
  3. Scale and partner: launch and integration into the stores’ network

Automatic inventory and Amazon Go-style solutions

Aldi is looking for solutions and technologies that will contribute to create more automated operations with an emphasis on stores. The main two areas of focus are:

  • Computer vision-based product recognition: solutions to identify products on visual information only including applications able to recognize a wide range of assets (barcodes, language, label). This will need to be implemented in an in-store environment
  • Sensor-based item monitoring in stores: in-store real (or near-real) time monitoring of stocks levels solutions that should be scalable to the thousands of stores. Sensors that can be equipped on carts, shelves, ceilings and any other in-store feature. No RFID

Could solve key discounter challenges: queues and availability

These areas of focus are suggestive of the Amazon Go store concept. This would be will be aligned with the latest trends in grocery retailing towards unstaffed stores, while more importantly it could solve two of the major pain points at discounters:

  • Making stores checkout-free will remove the long queuing times at checkout, usually experienced by shoppers at most major discounters
  • The real time monitoring of stocks could help ensuring products’ availability on shelves is improved and reduce risk to disappoint shoppers

The costs of these solutions are still high but is expected to decrease in the coming years, making it more accessible to retailers including discounters.

As with most of its development, Aldi focuses here is on technology that could contribute to improve its operations efficiency, reduce costs and increase the entire business profitability in the longer term. The cost savings could potentially be invested in prices and increase even more the disruptive role of Aldi in the different markets where it operates.

For now, Aldi is at the early stage of this technological transformation, although its simple and standard store format and limited assortment could be a strength. These benefits could make the roll out of such solutions easier and enable Aldi to quickly evolve its stores’ model and catch up with the competition.

Looking for more insights

Retail analysis subscribers looking for more insight on checkout-free stores and the latest innovations could access the following reports:

 

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