Dutch-Belgian supermarket group Ahold Delhaize has announced that it hopes to launch its first AH To Go stores without a cash register next year. That would be a lot sooner than what Albert Heijn’s CEO, Wouter Kolk, predicted several months ago.
Visit to Silicon Valley
Back in February, Kolk said that Albert Heijn is also working on a cash register-free supermarket, just like Amazon. Back then, he said the first pilots would be launched “in a few years”, but he displayed a lot more ambitious now. “I hope we can trial the very first AH To Go stores next year”, he told De Telegraaf. “We are explicitly choosing to work with AH To Go, because payment speed is the most important in that formula. If deemed successful, the service will also be moved to other Albert Heijn stores.
To learn more about other innovations, Kolk went to Silicon Valley recently for visits to Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and several start-ups. “We often talk to these companies about a whole range of things. It was nice to visit them and to speak to their brightest employees about how to organize innovation in your own company for instance.”
Supermarkt of the future
Albert Heijn will celebrate its 130th anniversary this year and wants to look ahead to the future, towards the supermarket of the year 2025. It enlisted a lot of experts, but also asked the consumer to think along. “Supermarkets will be much more diversified in 2025, with a different approach depending on the suburb or whether they are in urban or rural areas. Experience, convenience and speed are the trends to follow. Soon, everything you want will happen and technology will play a major part.”
Different generations also have different expectations regarding supermarkets: millennials want a focus on experience, where the physical location often serves as a meeting area. Seniors target smaller convenience supermarkets that can quickly satisfy their local fresh food needs. Both groups do agree that sustainability and health should be priorities.
According to Kolk, fresh food will become more important and those will be cultivated more locally, reducing the distance from the field to the store. “It will not be as common to bring in food from distant lands.” Online will also become more valuable obviously. “I do not know how strong its growth will be, because customers still value physical stores. I personally think that a supermarket in 2025 will become a source of advice and inspiration when it comes to food,” Kolk concludes.