Albertsons Cos. has partnered with Veeve Inc. to pilot “smart” shopping carts that allow customers to call up items as they shop and pay without checking out.
Plans are for Albertsons to pilot AI-powered Veeve smart carts in “a few dozen stores” across the country later this year, Seattle-based Veeve said Thursday.
Veeve smart carts are designed to allow shoppers to scan, pay and go. The technology combines barcode scanning and computer vision to identify products as they are added or removed from the basket, which also has an integrated scale that automatically captures the weight and calculates the price unpackaged groceries, such as fresh produce. A touchscreen near the cart handle keeps a running total of items added. After completing their purchases, customers tap the “Checkout” button on the screen and tap to pay or insert a credit/debit card using the adjacent payment device. They can also choose to receive a receipt by email.
“Veeve Smart Carts offer a sophisticated yet simple self-checkout experience for people who value flexibility and time savings,” said Alyse Wuson, senior director of omni experiences in Boise, Idaho, Albertsons Cos., in a statement. “Our goal is to enhance the grocery shopping experience, however our customers choose to shop, and Veeve’s technology brings the ease and integration of e-commerce directly to the grocery cart. ”
To use the cart, customers enter their phone number on the screen to check in and place a Veeve canvas shopping bag with handle in the cart. The smart cart platform integrates with store loyalty programs, including Albertsons’ Just For U, as well as retailers’ existing mobile apps and ad networks, according to Veeve. Using the touchscreen, customers can search and compare products and receive “turn-by-turn” instructions for finding items in the store, the company said. The screen can also present real-time product recommendations based on items already in the cart. Shoppers can also access their order history and personalized offers, clip digital coupons, and request assistance.
Veeve noted that its smart cart, which is also piloted by western grocer Raley’sunfolds in grocery stores without the need for additional modernization.
“We are delighted to partner with Albertsons Cos. to provide a personalized in-store shopping experience. This rollout is an important and inevitable next step in connecting the consumer’s e-commerce business with an entirely new, digitally-driven in-store shopping experience,” commented Shariq Siddiqui, co-founder and CEO of Veeve. “Working with Albertsons Cos., we’re connecting multiple consumer channels to the brands they trust while keeping customer loyalty at the heart of the experience.”
The nation’s second-largest supermarket retailer, Albertsons operates 2,276 grocery and pharmacy stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under banners such as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market.
While Amazon leads the “skip the checkout lane” retail industry with its Just Walk Out cashierless technology — now in its Amazon Go convenience stores and select Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market supermarkets — the chains of grocery stores have shown increased interest in smart cart solutions.
Last fall, online grocery delivery giant Instacart announced the acquisition of smart cart maker Caper Inc. in a $350 million deal. Caper’s cart was already on trial at US grocers such as The Kroger Company. (which branded the cart “KroGO”), Wakefern Food Corp. and Schnuck Markets. Sobeys Inc., one of Canada’s largest food and drug retailers, introduced the Caper cart after drive technology in October 2019.
In addition to Just Walk Out, Amazon offers the Amazon Dashboard Cart, which was developed for Amazon Fresh stores and tracks shoppers’ purchases and allows them to complete their transaction while leaving the store. The Dash Cart is now available at 14 of 30 Amazon Fresh stores, with the remaining 16 offering Just Walk Out purchases.