AH-Tap to go, the new cashless system at Albert Heijn-to go, allows customers to shop and pay without standing in lines at the cash register. The system has been implemented as a trial in two AH-to go’s in Amsterdam.
Albert Heijn, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, has recently embraced the cashless trend. In two Albert Heijn-to go stores, it is now possible to pay without cash or card. All you need is a special pass, the Tap-to go card, which you scan on the shelf from where you take the product. If you scan your card again, the product is deleted from the list. Instead of scanning the card, a Tap-to go app can also be used. Albert Heijn followed the trend developed, among others, by the US-based company Amazon, that opened its first checkout-free grocery store in Seattle last January. This shop, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back.
Willem Rikkelman (31) is the manager of one of the two shops that started with the AH-tap to go trial phase, the AH-to go at Amsterdam Centraal metro station. Based on the first two days of the trial, he is very positive about the new system. “The experiment went very well,” said Rikkelman. “Many people were using it.” If cash registers become useless, what will happen to AH employees? “We will not fully replace cash registers, but employees will have more time to help customers,” explained Rikkelman. “There will be no layoffs due to the new system.” About the possible increase of theft, Rikkelman states: “Stealing happens anyway and will happen in the future.” What is needed is a change in customers’ moral behavior. “People should learn that they have to pay for their groceries,” the manager says.
25 year-old Victoria Brood, on-boarding specialist at AH, is charged of helping customers with the Tap-to go card and app. “The system is meant to help people in a hurry,” explained Brood. “It will help customers to avoid lines and shop faster.” That is why it has first been implemented in crossing points, “like hospitals, universities and metro stations.”
Last Tuesday, Brood stood around AH-to go at Amsterdam Centraal metro station with a bunch of flyers, handing them out to customers. Carlijne Engels, a Dutch Communication Science student at UvA, just listened to her explanation about Tap-to go. “I like the idea, because it allows to avoid the queues and do your groceries faster,” said Engels. “I would use it, especially when I am in a hurry.” Engels thinks the new system should be more spread. “For now it only works in a few shops. If it was everywhere, it would be more useful.”
However, the smart-phone application is only available for Android devices and no such application has been developed yet for the iOS devices. Since the system is only in it’s only in the trial phase, customers who do not want to participate can still go to a normal cash desk. So far, the system has been implemented as a trial in two AH-to go, at Amsterdam Medical Center since last week and, since last Monday, at Amsterdam Centraal metro station. Based on customers’ experience in the first two trial supermarkets, Albert Heijn headquarters will decide whether Tap-to go will be implemented in other stores.