Imagine walking into a store and automatically paying for your groceries without waiting in a long line. Amazon Go already lets you do this with an app, but it only has four stores open in the United States at this time. Now, cashierless shopping may expand to other retailers because of tap to go technology and other apps.
Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch international retailer with 35 supermarket brands around the world, announced it would use tap to go technology in its Albert Heijn stores. The checkout-free stores will allow customers to pay for groceries with an app or a “tap to go” card. They can use the card to tap on a shelf tag for the items they want. Then, 10 minutes later, the customers’ bank accounts are automatically debited for the amount they spent. There are no long lines, cashiers or wait times.
For shoppers, the “tap to go” experience appears seamless and fast. They see an item they want on a shelf, tap their cards on the tag under it, grab the item and keep shopping. The electronic tag beeps and lights up in a green color around the edges if it is tapped. Each tag or shelf reader has the price and barcode. If shoppers change their mind about some items, they can put them back and reverse the charges by tapping on the tag again. This time, it will light up in a red color around the edges.
In the Netherlands, Albert Heijn is a major supermarket chain. Two checkout-free stores have already opened, and the company plans to expand the technology. General Manager Jan-Willem Dockheer shares, “We want to offer our customers plenty of choice, quality and convenience anytime and anywhere. With ‘tap to go’, we really bring that convenience to the next level. Who waits in a line for fun?”
Ahold Delhaize owns Food Lion, Giant Martins, Giant Food, Hannaford, Peapod and Stop & Shop in the United States. The retailer has 2,100 stores across the country. Although the company has not announced if or when it will roll out “tag to go” technology in the U.S., it may be coming soon. Ahold Delhaize started to test the tech in 2017 in the Netherlands, so its decision to open two checkout-free stores, along with its plans for expansion, indicates that the tests were successful.
The retailer is using near-field communication (NFC) tags on its store shelves. NFC tags have small microchips embedded in them that mobile devices can read. They are part of a growing electronic shelf label market, which is expected to reach $1.25 billion by 2024.
The implementation of Ahold Delhaize “tap to go” technology and Amazon Go’s plans for expansion make it clear that cashierless shopping is coming to more grocery stores around the country.
However, the growth of this tech is also raising concerns about the loss of 3.5 million cashier jobs in the U.S. Amazon explains that workers are simply assigned “different kinds of tasks,” such as restocking. If more retailers move toward this model, they may also have to find new tasks for former cashiers.