In a market in downtown Cologne, customers will be able to buy their purchases quickly, easily, with reduced contact and securely from late summer 2021 – without paying at the checkout. The test for a selected group of employees starts at the beginning of May. Classic shopping with payment at the cash register is still an integral part of the concept.
Hybrid shopping: Register using the app at the entrance barrier
From the outside, the Rewe store on Zeppelinstrasse, not far from Cologne’s Neumarkt, initially looks like a regular supermarket. But as soon as you enter, you will notice the clear data protection information and the modern entrance barrier. This is where it gets innovative: Customers who have the autonomous check-out, i.e. shopping without an active checkout process at the checkout, log in to the barrier using a special app.
Then they can take all the products they want from the shelves, pack them up – and at the end simply walk out of the market. The invoice will then appear automatically in the app. And should there be any discrepancies, the complaint is just as easily triggered via the app. As usual, the store staff or a hotline are available to answer individual questions.
Fruit and vegetables, dry goods, frozen products – even freshly brewed latte macchiato for on the go are bought this way. Intelligent cameras and sensors in the shelves and others High-tech components such as servers and switches and around six kilometers of high-speed network cable are the heart of the system. The customers are not personally identifiable on the images recorded for shopping. The Cologne market is one of the first supermarkets in Europe to enable hybrid shopping in this way under real conditions.
New shopping experience in the supermarket
“With this project, we are once again proving that we are one of the most innovative companies in this country when it comes to shopping in the supermarket. But that means more than just a high-tech focus. For us, the main focus is on the shopping experience of our customers and the feedback from our colleagues in their daily work in the store. In theory, many processes and procedures can be simulated – but in the end it is the people, the interaction and the personal feedback that count, ”explains Rewe divisional director Peter Maly.
Rewe has been dealing with the topic for over two years, has looked around the world for strong technology partners and has initiated its own developments at Rewe digital in the Carlswerk in Cologne. “Technological development is making rapid progress. Here it is important to identify the right partners. In addition, there are other decisive factors to consider in the food retail sector with its different formats, its broad assortments and the diverse requirements, especially with regard to data protection in Germany, ”says Christoph Eltze, Head of Retail Germany.
Hybrid shopping: Family & Friends test with selected employees starts
After successfully setting up the technology and programming a special Pick & Go app, the internal test at Rewe is now starting. “We will put the system through its paces for a few weeks before our customers are invited to hybrid shopping. It is important to us that all imaginable purchasing processes are put to the test under real conditions. Do all components work as we planned and simulated? How intuitive is the process in the app? Are all products correctly recognized in the market? Are the products shown correctly in the invoice?
How well is the possibility of complaint being accepted? How do our colleagues experience hybrid shopping in their everyday work? We test all of this and much more, ”explains Anika Vooes, project manager from Research & Innovation at Rewe digital. If the system and processes prove themselves in the store, the go-ahead for purchasing will be given in late summer 2021. “In addition to the customer’s shopping experience, data security and stability are our top priorities. In addition, we are in close contact with the data protection supervisory authority in North Rhine-Westphalia, ”continues Vooes.
As usual with stores of this size, there are currently 13 employees and a store management in Zeppelinstrasse. The works council is extensively involved in the project. “It was clear to us right from the start: Customers appreciate the possibility of personal contact. Questions about products, the range, offers or advice on purchasing – all of this will be given more space in the future. And if you prefer to pay for your purchase in person at the checkout, you can do so at any time in this store ”, says Stefan Weiß, Head of Sales at Rewe
Technology partnership between Rewe and Trigo Vision
Rewe is working on this hybrid shopping project Trigo Vision Ltd. together, a company specializing in computer vision technology. Trigo’s solution creates a 3D model of a supermarket to digitally map the environment and movement within so customers can select items and go out with them while protecting their privacy. With a turnover of 26.5 billion euros (2020), 161,000 employees nationwide and 3,700 stores, the Rewe Markt GmbH to one of the leading companies in the German food retail sector. The markets are operated as branches or by independent Rewe merchants. (sg)
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