Aldi has installed its first fully automated checkout system in the U.S. in partnership with technology firm Grabango at a store in suburban Chicago, allowing shoppers to leave without scanning their items.
The checkout equipment uses computer vision-based cameras and sensors mounted on the ceiling to monitor shoppers as they walk through the store and records the items they select.
Aldi began offering the automated checkout service at the grocery store, located at 2275 Galena Blvd. in Aurora, Illinois, in November, said a Grabango representative who was working in the store when a reporter from sister publication Payments Dive visited earlier this week. The location is about 10 miles from Batavia, Illinois, where Aldi’s U.S. headquarters is located.
The store, which opened in 2017 according to a local media report, is decked out with signage inviting customers to try the system, which the retailer calls “Aldi Go.” The signs, which appear inside and outside the store, indicate that the system is “Powered by Grabango.”
To use the service, shoppers need to install a mobile app from Grabango and select a credit card to cover the cost of their purchases. All major credit cards are accepted. Apple Pay is also an option and the company is working on offering Google Pay as well, the Grabango representative said.
The app includes a button to allow shoppers to get clearance from a store employee to buy age-restricted items like alcohol and also requires them to weigh some produce items.
Customers who opt to use the Aldi Go system bypass the store’s traditional checkout counters and stop instead at a touch screen-equipped kiosk to close out their transactions with the swipe of a smartphone. Aldi was offering shoppers $5 off their first order of at least $20 to encourage them to try the technology when Payments Dive visited the store.
Neither Aldi nor Grabango responded by press time to a request for comment about their partnership.
The Aldi Go concept is similar to the Just Walk Out service Amazon offers at certain Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market locations. But unlike Amazon, which began offering Just Walk Out at full-sized grocery stores in 2021, Grabango had until the collaboration with Aldi limited its equipment to convenience stores, at least publicly.
In 2022, German retailer Aldi Nord — the counterpart to Aldi Sud, which owns Aldi US — opened a 4,300-square-foot store in the Netherlands featuring frictionless checkout technology supplied by Israeli tech firm Trigo.
Grabango, meanwhile, commercially deployed its equipment for the first time in 2020, when Giant Eagle piloted the system at a GetGo Cafe+Market convenience store in Pittsburgh. Giant Eagle later brought the system to four more convenience stores. Grabango has also forged partnerships in the past with c-store chains MAPCO and Chevron.
However, frictionless checkout technology has struggled so far to expand in grocery and convenience retail in the U.S. Most grocers, including Aldi, have installed self-checkout machines, and some have piloted smart cart technology. In a sign of the challenges Grabango faces in rolling out its technology to retailers, the company laid off an unspecified number of employees last year.
Aldi operates more than 2,300 stores in the U.S.