You might have seen the images of Amazon Go, a futuristic grocery store where a vast array or sensors keep tabs on what items shoppers pick up in real-time. As a result, customers are able to buy food & drinks on the go, simply by taking products out of the shelves and leaving the store. No cash register. No employee. No queue. And no debit card. Up until now this has only been done in the USA, but Albert Heijn now introduces it in The Netherlands: Tap to go. Comparable, but possibly more efficient and innovative when it comes to high speed shopping.
In the AH to go store a customer scans electronic shelf cards using his or her tap card or mobile phone. By making use of this scan technology, products can be taken from or returned to shelves seamlessly, whilst at the same time, the digital shopping cart is updated automatically.
Once shopping has been completed, he or she simply walks out of the store and continues the day. Standing in line at the cash desk or paying at a cash point is no longer necessary. After 10 minutes of inactivity, the customer's bank account is debited and therefore payment is also processed automatically.
"With Tap to go the future of shopping is now available. We offer customers a fast, fun and seamless instore experience, and set a new standard for retailers worldwide."
Something from the future? Not at all, the first AH to go store with hyperfast shopping was used as a pilot at the end of 2017. After extensive testing and improving, Albert Heijn opened three more stores in September, with national expansion on the horizon. This time with CM.com as partner for payments and identification.
Albert Heijn took grocery shopping in a new direction with Tap to go. Consumers want fast. Consumers want convenience. So AH to go started this pilot with cashless shopping - Tap to go - in order to respond to the needs of the customer on the go. Due to the ease and speed of Tap to go, customers are tempted to come inside more often and thus spend more. In addition, customers will no longer walk past the store without entering because it's too busy. No queues without cash registers; so fast shopping is guaranteed.
Jan-Willem Dockheer, General Manager of AH to Go NL, explains: "AH to go is already known as the store where it’s all about speed, where you can buy something very fast. But if the train leaves in 2 minutes, we notice that many customers don’t come in. Because even though AH to go is all about speed, we too have queues at the cash register. Reducing the average shopping time from 3 minutes to 20 seconds, that was the mission."
At the end of 2017, AH to go started with their first pilot, a cashless store in the Atrium at the Ahold Delhaize headquarters. In order to be able to offer the best experience to customers immediately, we first tested this in the AH to go facility, which is used almost exclusively by Ahold staff.
Jan-Willem: "It is too great a risk to go outside straight away, so we tested it first here in the office. The reactions were very positive. People find Tap to go very fast, convenient and good. Moreover, we see that people come to the shop more often, and thus spend more. In Retail this is of course a golden formula."
With what has been learned in this first pilot, it will now be expanded at AH to go locations in the AMC and at the Amsterdam GVB. Tap to go will be opened to consumers, with the busy and rushed Central Station as the ultimate test. During this second pilot, the use of Tap to go must become even easier for the consumer. For example, the tapping of the smart shelves during the 1st pilot was only done with a tap card. At the launch of the second pilot in September 2018, this can also be done via the consumer's mobile phone. The onboarding process has also been made easier and safer, with CM.com as a partner for identification and payments. AH to go will also take over the loyalty card function from the well-known AH to go app in Tap to go. Personalisation and loyalty programs will eventually complete the experience.
Something from the future? Not at all, the first AH to go the store with hyperfast shopping was used as a pilot at the end of 2017. After extensive testing and improvement, Albert Heijn opened three more stores in September, with national expansion on the horizon. This time with CM.com as a partner for payments and identification.
A lot of technology and considerations are hidden behind this easy way of shopping. The experience for AH to go customers is now more fun and flexible than ever because of the clearly considered choices in mobile technologies. "The less time you have to spend in the store, the better.
Being late for your train departure or lecture because of the queue at the cash desk, that’s really a no-brainer," says Jan-Willem, general manager of AH to go.
Tapping is possible via card and mobile phone. The Tap to go app can easily be downloaded and the cards will be distributed throughout the pilot stores. Registration must be done via the AH to go app. Upon every registration, the customers’ mobile phone number will be verified via a One Time Password from the CM.com platform.
Furthermore, to make payments possible, the customers’ bank account number must be verified which is done via the iBAN verification on the CM.com platform. The customer will pay an initial transaction fee of € 0.01. After the account is verified successfully, Tap to go is ready for use. Simply tap, grab, go!
The technology, both in the card and in the phone, uses active NFC, or Near Field Communication. NFC is a wireless way to exchange small amounts of information within a radius of 10 centimeters. This standard chip is used in most bank cards, loyalty cards and telephones and allows communication with other devices, such as PIN terminals. The specially developed digital shelf tags can be scanned accurately, after which the input is processed directly to the digital shopping cart.
According to Bas Peters, one of the developers behind the new payment concept of CM.com, NFC offers an unprecedented low-threshold way to put products in your shopping basket. "The self-scanner that became popular in recent years has become redundant. Your mobile phone or Tap to go card is all you need."
After 10 minutes of inactivity of the tap card or mobile phone, the customer receives a Push message with the amount debited from his or her bank account. The direct debit also runs through the CM.com platform. Should the collection fail, because the balance is too low for example, the collection will automatically be repeated by the AutoCollect system of CM.com. If the collection would fail twice, CM.com will send the customer an iDeal payment link via SMS and e-mail on behalf of AH in order to complete the payment easily and safely.
In the meantime, Albert Heijn has insight into visitors and purchases at all times. CM.com provides Analytics with all relevant data from CM Data in a clear dashboard. In this Tap to go dashboard, Albert Heijn can monitor exactly how many shoppers there are and what is being spent.
This is not the first time Albert Heijn has used the CM.com platform to improve the customer experience. CM.com has been sending SMS notifications for AH’s online shipments. Every customer receives an SMS with the exact time frame until groceries are delivered.
CM.com is therefore proud to play a role in this new success story of AH to go. Jeroen van Glabbeek, CEO of CM.com: "CM plays a crucial role regarding technology in this project. We process the consumer data on our Customer Data Platform. We also take care of the payments in a frictionless way, without any actions of the store or consumer, completely automated. And because CM.com's technology guarantees payment for the store, it can simply close its cash register every day, while fraud and abuse is prevented by smart self-learning software."
Jan-Willem about CM.com: "What we noticed in the beginning, you have also fulfilled. You are very fast and flexible in the competition and think very clearly as pure specialists about how we are going to do this. This is truly your expertise".
Never before was this form of mobile technology used in the Netherlands to make life easier for consumers. Jeroen: "This is a real breakthrough for both retail and payments. The first store where you can pay without checkout. What we prove in practice here is a starting point for a whole wave of Next Generation Payments."
When we asked Jan-Willem about the future of retail, he indicated that according to him, there should always be a hybrid model. Jan-Willem: "You have the option of using your tap card or mobile phone, we won't exclude anything, the customer can choose. We would like to give every store a cashless option however some stores will always keep a cash register in order to accept cash. For example, in hospitals there must be a cash register, because someone over 70 might not change his or her shopping behaviour, and we want to serve every customer equally.
At the GVB (public transport in Amsterdam) you also have to be able to pay cash in addition to tapping. With all (international) travelers you cannot exclude cash payments, but even there it should be possible to shop cashless without any problems. So the hybrid variant will be a good option".
Integrating the tap to go functionality does not mean that it will replace employees, Jan-Willem explains: "The bigger the sale, the more products need to be filled on the shelf, and the more efficiently the store will run. You need a lot of people for that. That's something that hasn't changed. The goal is not to create a concept without people, but without a cash register. The goal is to offer a seamless and fast shopping experience for our customers which simply means happier and loyal customers.
Tap to go makes shopping possible within 20 seconds. If we look further ahead to the future of retail, Jan-Willem mentions algorithmic retail and mobile only. "Customer behaviour will be predicted for the most part, which will help create a much better experience. On all kinds of relatively standardized products with standardized use, like detergent or deodorant, you will be fully predicted.
I also firmly believe in mobile only. Shopping can be done anytime, at any place, and purchases will be delivered to your doorstep or wherever you choose.
We look forward to the future with great enthusiasm. In addition to the above example, CM.com is currently working on a new service for seamless and guaranteed payments.
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