Sam van der Loo

The world is changing by automation and, of course, the supermarkets are also involved. Even the ‘good old’ Albert Heijn on the Overtoom in Amsterdam is taking part, as this month most of the regular checkouts were replaced by automated cash registers, making cashiers redundant.

Automated checkouts at the Overtoom branch
Photo: Sam van der Loo

Deborah Kloppenburg, the manager of this branch, is delighted with the changes to her company. “It has worked out very well so far. The reactions of the consumers are good and I notice that the number of people in the queue is decreasing rapidly.”

Speed proves to be the greatest value of the changes in the supermarkets, but on the other hand an automated cash register might as well lead to the dismissal of cashiers. Kloppenburg says that her employees do not have to be afraid that they will lose their jobs. “In fact, the automation of this branch has solved an employee shortage. In my view, this change only generates winners: it saves the consumers valuable time and the workload of the employees is being reduced.”

Albert Heijn To Go

The next step of the Albert Heijn is to let consumers shop in the AH To Go branches without any cash registers. Users receive a pass that automatically debits the money from the bank account, which means that a checkout is unnecessary.

Kloppenburg states that her store is not ready for that yet, but she thinks it is a good step for the smaller stores. “Research has shown that many people in regular supermarkets still need human contact, so we respect that. I myself have also been in a shop in London without a cash register and that takes some getting used to, but I think it is a good idea. I am sure we will take these changes step by step.”

In this way, the supermarket chains are also gradually coming along with the robotization that keeps the world in its grip. If shopping without cash registers turns out to be well accepted, it seems only a matter of time to branches such as the clothing industry also go along with this phenomenon.

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