“I visited London’s Aldi, the place you simply stroll out with out paying on the until, and I used to be afraid to the touch something” – Lea Dzifa Seeberg


There’s a new trend in town: automated grocery stores. Amazon Fresh started the trend and now that Jeff Bezos’ company has 17 stores across London, Aldi has joined the party.

They’ve opened a ‘shop and go’ Aldi in Greenwich that works the same way: instead of having your groceries scanned at the register and then paying for them, you simply scan a code to enter the store and get what you want. You then walk out and your card will be charged automatically.

As someone who is notoriously shy and breaks a cold sweat when I have to talk to a stranger, it seemed like a godsend. I love self-checkouts, but I hate having staff drop by when the machine inevitably has an “unexpected item in the bagging area.” So if there really was a way to avoid all human interaction altogether, I was all for it.

READ MORE: “I visited Aldi on a Wednesday morning to see if it really is the best time of the week to shop there.”

Instructions were posted everywhere

When I got to the store I figured I could just walk inside. But I was greeted at the door with an extensive list of instructions and awkwardly stood in the parking lot to complete them. First I had to download the “Aldi Shop and Go” app. Then I had to register with my name, address, phone number and email. Then I had to log into my email to get a verification code. Then I had to register my bank card details. And then I had to watch how-to videos that couldn’t be skipped. And when I did all that, I had to hope that my internet connection was strong enough to generate a QR code.

Then I was finally in. The familiar aisles of Aldi spread out before me as I walked around and I quickly realized this was just regular business. Although the app had assured me that I could pick things up and put things back on the shelves, it had also told me never to give an item directly to anyone, but rather put it on a shelf for them to pick up. Surely that would mean I could be accidentally charged for something if I picked it up and then changed my mind?

The store was eerily empty

I struggled to understand the concept that I wasn’t going to be charged for just picking things up on the shelves or just touching them. As I strolled through the store, I was afraid that I would look so confused that I would be mistaken for a shoplifter. But how could I be? This Aldi was shoplifting proof. When I finally plucked up courage and headed to the bakery, I was skeptical, but I overcame my fear of a robot-ruled world and grabbed a cheesecake.

Then I left the store, sweating as my instinct told me to pay for my meal. Despite my sanity, I pulled up outside and took a big bite out of my pastry. And I wasn’t even halfway to DLR when my phone said I’d charged the correct amount and the app thanked me for shopping at Aldi.

I was expecting to get arrested while eating my cheese twist

But when I saw a confused crowd at the entrance none of them actually entered the store and when I was there I was alone. As I struggled through the app’s many steps, this technological marvel seemed just a step too far for most regular Aldi shoppers.

And I won’t be returning either. While I do get anxious around people, the complete lack of noise and people in the store made the whole experience feel awkward like an apocalypse movie where I was the last woman alive.

Do you have a story about a grocery store that you think we should cover? If so, email [email protected] or [email protected]

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