The future of fully self-scan supermarkets

Looking at supermarkets nowadays, we see many new developments when it comes to doing grocery shopping. Doing your groceries just isn’t the same as it used to be anymore. New innovations (made possible by new technology), enable us as consumers to experience grocery shopping in a whole new way, all of it to make grocery shopping easier, more efficient and more convenient.

Albert Heijn, for example, provides customers with the option of self-scanning (with a hand scanner or mobile phone app) and self-check outs. In the AH To Go’s the self-checkout service is already offered, as well as in other AH supermarkets.

Recently, however, AH decided to take the self-scanning concept to a major store and has opened its first fully self-scan (and pin) supermarket in Amsterdam. Customer can choose out of three options: self-scanning using the hand scanner, using the Appie app on one’s smartphone or the self-scan checkouts. Customers pay the bill without the intervention of the cashiers anymore. Scrapping the old-fashioned checkouts also means an increase in amount of space availability for products (DutchNews, 2015).

Ahold says the self-scan supermarket is not intended to cut cost and the self-scan supermarket has just the same amount of staff as like the similar supermarkets with old-fashioned cash registers. Staff, like cashiers, are getting a different role and are on hand to answer questions from customers, and to help customers with self-scanning. Another feature of this supermarket is that customers cannot pay by cash anymore, but can only pin.


First of all, I think this is a very interesting concept, especially an interesting approach AH has taken to open a fully self-scan supermarket. Nevertheless, there are a few things I am wondering about. They say the number of staff has not reduced, although, will this still be the case in the future? Cashiers perform a whole different kind of job now, walking through the store, helping customers with questions about self-scanning… how will this kind of job end up like based on the long-run? After a while, customers are probably going to need less help with self-scanning and the need for (the same amount of) employees is most likely going to drop in the future. So what kind of effect does this change have on the job market according to you?

Second of all, there is no option to pay with cash, which I find a bit inconvenient as well. I assume most people pay by debit card anyway nowadays, but there should still be the option to pay with cash, for example for small groceries. The fact that AH only provides payment by debit card (pin) is most likely going to help them with marketing and/or data collection as well. They are able to track consumer behavior even more now by only providing aforementioned payment option.

Third, the idea of a fully automated kind of supermarket just makes me feel like there’s definitely going to be less customer interaction. Technological advances drive us even further away from actual human interaction. So what is the future going to be like for these kinds of supermarkets?

AH is very curious as to how customers will react, and so am I. I wonder if this really is the future for supermarkets. I doubt it, but I would love to hear some of your thought about this recent development!

Linda Tram – 355313


DutchNews, (2015), “Albert Heijn opens supermarket with self-scan check-outs only”,, accessed at:

Emerce, (2015), “Albert Heijn opent volledige zelfscan supermarkt”,, accessed at:


One response to “The future of fully self-scan supermarkets”

  1. 374956vc says :

    I think this is a very interesting and innovative concept, but it also raises a number of question. The related subject ‘theft’ is something I miss in your article. This self-scanning concept is very sensitive for theft, since not all the customers are being checked when they finish the process. To be honest, since the number of staff will not be reduced by the implementation of this concept, I do not really understand the value self-scanning system will deliver? Further, I immediately think of older people, who (I think) will not be very happy with this new concept. In the case that an older person is not able to handle the system, it will cause a delay since other people have to wait. I think a combination of both the traditional cashiers and the self-scanning system will work the best for AH.

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