Albertsons is testing a smart trolley

Diving brief:

  • Albertsons is testing smart carts made by Seattle-based Veeve at two locations — an Albertsons store in Eagle, Idaho, and a Safeway store in Pleasanton, Calif. — according to a report last week in WoodDev this has been confirmed by Veeve.
  • Veeve is also testing its carts with Kroger in several Midwestern markets, said Shariq, CEO of Veeve. Siddiqui noted. This builds on the single-store pilot Kroger announced earlier this year with Caper, which was recently acquired by Instacart.
  • Grocers are taking a close look at smart carts, which claim to speed up the shopping process for consumers and provide valuable business insights to retailers.

Overview of the dive:

Albertsons’ Smart Cart Pilot is currently in its early stages, and it’s unclear if it will expand beyond a few stores. A spokesperson for Albertsons confirmed it was testing the technology but declined to answer questions about its performance to date, whether the company is working with other smart cart makers and other details.

The test indicates that Albertsons, like other retailers, is looking closely at smart carts as a way to improve the shopping experience and also provide consumers with data on in-store purchases. Amazon’s development of the Dash Cart, which the company unveiled for its Fresh stores last year, has prompted grocers to test the technology themselves, and Instacart’s acquisition of Caper last month appears to be laying the groundwork for this. ‘a large-scale expansion of smart carts inside stores across the country.

News that Albertsons rival Kroger was testing a smart cart made by Caper emerged earlier this year, and the grocer has expanded that series to also include carts made by Veeve. A Kroger spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry into the scope of its smart cart testing at this point. An Instacart spokesperson, meanwhile, said Caper has hundreds of carts working with grocery chains like Kroger, Wakefern and Sobeys, and said tech companies are currently working to cut the cost of each carriage.

Companies like Caper and Veeve are also working to make smart carts easy for shoppers to use. Veeve’s technologically-enhanced cart integrates with Albertsons’ loyalty program and uses a combination of barcode scanning and computer vision technology to register the products customers select, according to Siddiqui. Shoppers are required to scan a barcode on every item, including produce, deli and prepared food selections, while sensors inside the cart capture the product placed inside and then the weigh, if necessary. Sensors can also detect if a shopper removes an item from the cart and deduct it from the running total.

A Veeve cart pictured inside an unnamed retailer.

Permission granted by Veeve

Smart cart makers like Veeve and Caper market their computer vision systems, but Siddiqui said grocery store executives have so far felt more secure in requiring shoppers to first scan each product’s barcode. Siddiqui said the carts inside the Albertsons store, which bear the Albertsons logo, function as automatic checkouts, with the computer vision system running in the background and training to better recognize the products. It expects the process by which consumers simply place products in the shopping cart will soon become the primary mode of operation for its retail partners, with barcode scanning as a fallback in case the shopping cart fails to recognize not an article.

Siddiqui said Veeve plans to start adding customization features to its carts starting next year. This includes shopping list integration as well as a store navigation feature that directs shoppers to each item. The company is also working on a tool that lets shoppers select popular local recipes on the cart’s touchscreen and fill out a shopping list, and another feature that reminds shoppers of items they’ve purchased in the past. when they pass in front of them.

Veeve is also exploring e-commerce tools that connect shoppers to retailers’ online marketplaces and allow them to add out-of-stock products from stores to their digital shopping carts.

“You can think of the shopping cart less as a checkout solution and more as a platform,” Siddiqui noted.

However, the most important features for smart carts may be those that provide information to retailers about how shoppers navigate their stores, the products they buy, and other valuable data points. It’s the same value as frictionless payment companies like Trigo, Standard AI and Zippin, which use sophisticated software and AI-enabled cameras to track shoppers and the items they select, promote to retailers. . Retailers like Walmart are also encouraging shoppers to use their app while shopping to scan products for more information and even check out as well.

Overall, this paints a picture of a future where retailers can collect data about in-store purchases at the same granularity as the data they collect about online purchases.

“Scanning the store is no longer optional,” said Siddiqui. “If you don’t, you will be left out.”