Time is money may be an old adage by it is the key reason Sobeys has begun testing an “intelligent” shopping cart from Caper Inc. that keeps track of groceries that customers select and enables them to pay without having to go through the checkout lane that according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® will make customer happy.
The Caper Smart Cart is being piloted at the 41,000-square-foot Glen Abbey Sobeys supermarket in Oakville, Ontario. New York-based Caper said the partnership with Sobeys makes it the first independent automated checkout company to have a live commercial deployment with a major retailer.
Branded as the Sobeys Smart Cart, the high-tech unit uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to scan and weigh products as customers put them in the cart. A touchscreen near the cart’s handle displays a running tally of items selected, and an attached a point-of-sale card terminal allows customers to pay for their purchases right on the cart. Shoppers bag their own groceries, and once payment is completed they exit the store. The Smart Carts are retrieved and returned inside the store.
Mathieu Lacoursiere, vice president of retail support at Sobeys, stated, "While products and customer eating habits have evolved, the in-store grocery shopping experience has remained relatively static for the last 100 years," "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."
The smart cart will be dynamic not static as capabilities of the cart will evolve beyond frictionless checkout. For example, the cart’s screen eventually will be able to guide customers through the store’s aisles to find products on their shopping list. Screen alerts also will highlight deals and promotions on nearby items as well as make product suggestions for recipes.
Citing research from PwC Canada, Sobeys reported that 52% of Canadians think the in-store shopping experience would greatly improve if they were able to navigate the store more quickly and easily.
Lacoursiere continues "The best Canadian brands aim to be world-class by thinking ahead and placing bets on unique innovations," … "We're constantly looking for new ways to evolve the grocery shopping experience. During the Smart Cart pilot, we will engage with our customers in real time to better understand what inspires them and adds value to their shopping experience throughout the store."
This is a ‘plug-and-play solution’, the Smart Cart allows retailers to scale and deploy automated checkout with minimal disruption, according to Caper. "The Sobeys team has incredible execution capabilities,” Beshry said. “When retailers are able to pick up a new technology and execute quickly, it creates the right environment for rapid innovation."
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