REWE is the first food retailer in Germany to offer customers a hybrid shopping experience. Shoppers can either pay at checkout or use the innovative, checkout-free Pick&Go option. After an intensive five-month trial, this high-tech system is now being rolled out for customers in Cologne as a new way to shop. When customers choose to Pick&Go, their purchases are captured securely using camera and sensor technology designed to minimise the data collected. Once customers leave the store, they are billed automatically without stopping to check out.
It is hard to imagine a quicker, simpler or more convenient way to shop today. Ellyes Skhiri and team manager Thomas Kessler of FC Köln were the first official Pick&Go customers, and they had the chance to demonstrate their silky skills off the pitch and in the aisles. Customers can now do the weekly shop, grab a quick snack or pick up a few essentials quickly, conveniently and securely at the store near Cologne’s Neumarkt without having to stop at checkout. REWE has been putting Pick&Go through the paces with a group of employee test shoppers since the start of May. More than 300 REWE employees made around 3,000 purchases, packing packed around 15,000 items into their own bags and rucksacks before leaving the store without having to stop and check out
The REWE store on Zeppelinstrasse looks like any other supermarket from the outside. But once inside, it is clear from the prominent privacy notices and modern entrance gates that an innovative shopping experience awaits. For customers, it is all very straightforward: If they would like to use the autonomous checkout and do their shopping without going to the till, they simply sign in with REWE’s Pick&Go app at the entrance. They can now take everything they need from the shelves, pack the items away and simply walk out of the store when they’ve finished shopping. The Pick&Go app automatically displays the bill straight away. If there are any discrepancies, it is just as easy for customers to report the issue with the Pick&Go app within 24 hours of their purchase. Customers can then simply contact customer services. As always, in-store staff will be happy to help with individual questions.
The full range of in-store items can be purchased in this way, including fresh baked goods, fruit and vegetables, dry goods and frozen foods – and even hot food like meat loaf and rosemary potatoes or freshly brewed coffee to takeaway. The system relies on smart cameras, shelf sensors and other high-tech components, as well as six kilometres of high-speed network cable.
Data protection continues to be at the heart of the development and operation of the system. Data minimisation principles are followed when processing the customer images captured by the system. They are used exclusively to enable checkout-free shopping in the hybrid store. The system only records data identifying items removed or placed back on the shelf, and it does not use facial recognition technology or “remember” customers on subsequent visits to the store. The Zeppelinstrasse supermarket is one of the first in Europe to enable customers to use this hybrid shopping model under real-life conditions.