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Albertsons tests app that lets customers check out without checking out

BoiseDev Exclusive

Boise-based Albertsons Companies wants you to check out of its stores without visiting a check stand.

The company is quietly working on a new technology it calls Scan & Pay.

The project uses a mobile app that allows customers to grab goods in the store, scan barcodes on a special mobile app, pay using the app — and leave. On the way out the door, customers show their phone receipt to an Albertsons employee.

BoiseDev first learned of the technology this spring, and company officials declined to answers about the project. However, a spokesperson noted the technology would roll out at two new stores under construction in the Boise area, noting the technology eliminates “the need to wait in the checkout line.” Kiosks bearing the Scan & Pay logo appear at the Broadway location but are currently not in use.

[Albertsons tried to buy Whole Foods. A worried CEO threw a Hail Mary for Amazon instead]

Scan & Pay echoes Shop ‘n’ Scan

A 2004 ad for Albertsons Shop ‘n’ Scan featuring former spokesperson Patricia Heaton. Via Albertsons, Inc.

The Scan & Pay technology harkens back to an earlier test by Albertsons, known as Shop ‘n’ Scan. Fifteen years ago, Albertsons piloted a test in Boise that allowed customers to use a custom handheld scanner as they roamed the aisles of the store. Similar to the new product, shoppers would scan the barcodes on items with the scanner. They would then visit the self-checkout area where an employee would do an audit of the scanning process and customers would pay at a kiosk.

Shop ‘n’ Scan later rolled out widely in the Dallas Fort-Worth area in 2004. The company later mothballed the project.

[β€˜T-Rex’: Safeway made big bet on Theranos before sale to Albertsons. Now the blood test co. CEO is on trial]

Now, with 15 years of additional technological advancement – and a combo scanner/payment device in every pocket, the company appears poised to try again. Apps for the Scan & Pay product appear for Apple and Android devices with both Albertsons and Safeway branding, but currently only works for “invited and subscription customers.”

Several other retailers have dabbled with similar efforts, including Walmart and Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer. Amazon Inc. has used a different set of technologies to power its small Amazon Go stores, which allows logged-in customers to simply take items off the shelf and leave the store without taking any other action.

Albertsons Scan & Pay
Screenshots of the Albertsons Scan & Pay app. Via Albertsons Companies

Albertsons has rolled out a long list of technology in recent years – both widely, and on trial bases. As BoiseDev noted, the company istrialing robot grocery carts, launched anew payment system, launched arobot grocery kiosk, addednationwide pharmacy delivery, and started anAmazon Prime-like membership offering. The company also launched a partnership with Google and hired a top exec from Best Buy.

The company maintains its headquarters in Boise and operates nearly 2,300 stores around the country under a variety of banners.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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