Self-scanning at Albert Heijn (Kaatsheuvel)

Some of you might have heard of the self-scanning system in the Albert Heijn. Since 2006 the organisation of Albert Heijn has been focusing on a new innovative ways of shopping in supermarkets. Since the end of this year’s some shops in Utrecht, Eindhoven and Helmond have used this system and after a lot of adjustments to the method it is now being implemented to other smaller cities in the Netherlands.

As I knew some of you have heard about it but haven't seen it yet, I decided to go to the Albert Heijn in Kaatsheuvel. Here the system has been implemented a couple of weeks ago while the store got totally renovated.
I brought my camera and made some pictures of the system, I have also been able to talk to the supermarket's manager to discuss the efficiency and use of the system.

In general this is how the system works. When you enter the supermarket you bump into a wall full of scanners (see above). You have to put your own bonus-card in front of a big company-scanner which will activate one of the hand-scanners. This way the hand-scanner is linked to your account of Albert Heijn. (You can only use the system if you have a bonus card.)

Once you have your hand-scanner you can walk through the supermarket with both your trolley and hand-scanner to run your errands (see below). While you grab a product you scan it yourself and it will be added on a list which is shown on the hand-scanner (see photo). It is an easy to use system, you can add things easily and can erase products as well. (btw, don't worry about me harassing ladies in the Albert Heijn, she volunteered to be a model..)

Once you have scanned all the items you need, and placed them in your trolley, you can go to the final stand which contains again a company-scanner which is able to make a total list of your errands. Your discounts will be subtracted and you can pay by using a chip- or regular bankcard.(see below)

This system has a lot of advantages for the people who don't like to spend too much time on running their errands. Employees of the Albert Heijn will still be present near the scanner-walls to answer any of your questions, but as these questions are far less than the regular personal attention at a register, the amount of employees which are needed to help the customers have decreased immensely.

Also employees will check some of the trolleys on a sampling basis to make sure people stick to the system. Then again, the management board is aware that even though some people might forget to scan any of the items, or may steal them on purpose, this is an neglect able amount as it does not even come close to the regular costs for personnel at regular registers.

In general an interesting system which could be an incredible efficient system. The only problem that the supermarket experiences so far is that it takes a while to convince everybody (especially the elderly) to use the system. Therefore they are obliged to still use the same old-fashioned cash registers as well. Ah well, maybe it just needs some more time.. Actually I am quite a big fan of the system so far..


  1. Actually my partner works at Gall & Gall and therefore also Ahold.

    And this new formula is implemented all over Holland now. There is also one in Tilburg as well and in Breda also (ginnekenweg). And all new Albert Heijns (newly build) will get this new formula.

    A remark on the new formula is also that they removed the gates at the entrance of the supermarket so you can walk in freely! It is to give the shop a more friendly feel and look!

    They are also upgrading the Gall and Gall formula and when this is implemented Etos will follow as well.

  2. I also used it. It works great and people seem to like it. In the near future i see further developments of the devices (e.g. by adding more information about products, health, offers etc.)

  3. I must admit that I never use this system. Mhhh, maybe next time I will!

    I believe that the Albert Heijn XL in Helmond introduced the scanning system about a year and a half ago on a large scale. I found an article on the subject right after introducing it. The article is from Eindhovens Dagblad (July 17, 2007). Unfortunately it is in Dutch, but the main results are that 1/3 of the customers use the scanner once in a while, and 1/4 prefers the scanner over the regular cash desk. 1/3 of the users once had a mistake on their receit, 1/4 pays too much and 1/6 pays too little.

    HELMOND – Zelfscannen is populair bij klanten van Albert Heijn XL in Helmond. Uit een kleine steekproef onder 48 bezoekers van de supermarkt blijkt dat ruim één op de drie klanten wel eens een zelfscanner gebruikt. Een kwart van de klanten verkiest de zelfscanner zelfs boven een gewone kassa.

    De zelfscanner lijkt het meest op een wapen uit Star Trek, maar het apparaat kan enkel streepjescodes lezen, een bliepsignaal afgeven en de inhoud van het karretje of mandje weergeven.

    Bij het zelfscannen lezen klanten die een bonuskaart hebben met behulp van een handscanner de prijs van hun levensmiddelen. De boodschappen worden na registratie in de winkelwagen of direct in de boodschappentas gelegd. Het apparaat telt de prijzen van de producten automatisch op.

    Bij het verlaten van het winkelpand hoeven klanten alleen bij één van de betaalpalen hun zelfscanner op te hangen en elektronisch te betalen. Dat gaat aanzienlijk sneller dan afrekenen bij een caissière, want de producten blijven in de winkelwagen of boodschappentas gepakt. Op de uitgeprinte kassabon staan de nieuw verkregen zegels.

    Het gebruik van de futuristische zelfscanner is soms lastig, zo blijkt uit de steekproef. Een derde van de klanten die de scanner hanteert, heeft weleens een kassabon met fouten gehad.

    Een kwart van hen rekende te veel af. Dat kwam zowel door dubbelscannen als het scannen van, onder meer bij kortingsartikelen, de verkeerde streepjescode.

    Een zesde van de klanten gaf aan ooit te weinig te hebben betaald, doordat vergeten werd om een product in de laserstraal van de handscanner te houden. Albert Heijn controleert steekproefsgewijs de inhoud van afgerekende winkelwagentjes. Vergeten een artikel te scannen heeft niets met winkeldiefstal te maken. „Wanneer een klant vergeet om een artikel te betalen, vragen wij om alsnog af te rekenen”, stelt een woordvoerster van Albert Heijn.

    Een betaalpaal zonder sociale controle van caissière of wachtrij geeft een winkeldief meer gelegenheid om artikelen onbetaald mee te nemen.

    Grootgrutter Albert Heijn is desondanks niet bang voor toename van winkeldiefstal. „We kennen het systeem al sinds de jaren negentig en gebruiken het in steeds meer winkels. We vertrouwen onze klanten.”

  4. Oh! I find this new system simply incredible! It is always great to know what you have in your shopping cart, and see the sum of your purchases before you get to the cash register (where you don't want to start removing items and so on because it holds back the line and in general very inconvenient) this system gives you so much more control over the shopping process! This is great!

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    Free staff for the masses :_))

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