ALDI's New Checkout System Rivals Amazon

The grocery chain is testing new tech that might bring ALDI ahead of the curve.

ALDI has a large fan base because of its low prices and often unique rotation of items on its shelves. What the grocery chain is not often praised for is its high-tech shopping experience, but that could change soon. Grocery Dive reports that ALDI has been testing a fully automated checkout system at one of its U.S. stores.

The new system is being tested at an ALDI location in Aurora, Illinois and is part of the chain's partnership with checkout-free shopping technology firm Grabango (get it?). The pilot program, called Aldi Go, began in November; when it first launched, the store was offering shoppers $5 off their first order of $20 or more to encourage them to use the new technology.

The Aldi Go system uses cameras and sensors mounted on the ceiling throughout the store to track shoppers as they move through the aisles and select items off the shelves. However, to use Aldi Go, customers must download an app and enter a credit card number to apply to their purchase. The Grabango technology allows for Apple Pay and is working on adding Google Pay as well, a representative for the tech firm told Grocery Dive.

Aldi Go customers over 21 can buy alcohol once approved by an employee, and as with all other forms of checkout, produce items still have to be weighed. However, the new system allows you to skip the usual checkout process and instead lets the customer go to a touchscreen kiosk where their cart has already been tallied up. From there, they scan their phone to pay and leave.

If you're thinking this process sounds a little familiar, Amazon has had almost identical technology in use since 2020. The company's Just Walk Out technology also tracks shoppers in Amazon Fresh grocery stores, tallying up what they place in their cart before they even reach the checkout line and linking purchases to the customer's Amazon account.

Amazon has not had the best track record with its recent ventures into the grocery category. Amazon Fresh has experienced layoffs, and there might be general hesitation among consumers about signing up to be tracked while they shop. But ALDI has one thing going for it that Amazon doesn't: unwavering customer loyalty and devotion. If Aldi Go manages to position itself as an added convenience for those dedicated shoppers, it might just push Amazon Fresh stores down in the rankings.