Sobeys is partnering with Caper to test an intelligent shopping cart at a store in Oakville, Ontario.
Removing customer friction
The ‘Smart Cart’ has been developed to enable shoppers to bypass the traditional checkout lane, one of the key friction points within shopping trips. The cart’s technology scans and weighs products as customers place them inside. It keeps a running tally of purchases and enables customers to pay directly via the cart. Commenting on the test, Mathieu Lacoursiere, vice president of retail support at Sobeys, stated,
”This is a unique way for us to test innovative new technologies aimed at enhancing the customer shopping experience and learn how best to make it faster and easier. The carts will also give our in-store teammates more time to interact with customers and answer questions about food and new products.”
Moving towards automatic product identification
Caper envisages the cart evolving from scanning products to being able to automatically identify products. The cart is equipped with high resolution cameras that capture 120 images per second as products are placed inside. In the future, using AI and machine learning technology, the cart’s screen will also be able to help customers navigate the store using the most efficient route, based on a pre-built shopping list. It will also be able to highlight promotions and make product suggestions based on what is already in the cart.
Making it easy for customers
Retailers are increasingly looking at ways to make the in-store experience easier for shoppers, particularly within larger format stores. Since the launch Amazon Go in 2018, retailers have focused on simplifying or replacing current checkout experiences. Earlier this month, Tesco started trialing checkout-free technology at a store within its home office. In September, Ahold Delhaize-owned Albert Heijn partnered with US-based start-up AiFi on a checkout-free concept at its home office in Zaandam, Netherlands. In the US, two of the leading checkout-free innovators, Standard Cognition and Zippin Market, will deploy their technology at concession stores within sports stadiums. Multiple retailers have also been testing mobile ‘scan and go’ solutions. While Sobeys is using a different type of technology, the end goal of simplifying the shopping process and the checkout experience, is the same.
Driving change in store design
While we are several years away from seeing these solutions deployed at scale, many of the solutions can be retrofitted within existing stores and be deployed in large format supermarkets. However, industry adoption will be driven by both cost factors and consumer acceptance of the technology; privacy and data security concerns are increasingly front of mind. This type of technology is driving major change in the in-store checkout process, beyond the current deployment of self-checkouts and self-scanning solutions. This has the potential to radically shift store design and shopper engagement, particularly with front-of-store, impulse-driven categories.
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