Grocery shopping is about to become easier than ever. You won’t have to wander the store looking for what you want, you won’t have to consult the sales circular to learn about the best deals and coupons, and best of all, you won’t have to stand in line and wait as a cashier scans your items one by one.

Now, your shopping cart will be able to do all of this, so you won’t have to anymore.

Caper, the maker of “the world’s first intelligent shopping cart,” has announced its first partnership with a major retailer, raising the prospect that its carts could soon be available everywhere. First available in a couple of New York independent grocery stores, Caper’s Smart Cart is now being tested in Sobeys, one of Canada’s largest grocery chains, in the first large-scale test of the technology.

The main selling point of the Smart Cart is that it allows you to skip the checkout. In its original iteration, as you place items in the cart, you wave them past an embedded bar code reader, so the cart can keep a running total of your transaction. But a newer version skips the scanning and uses cameras to recognize items as you place them in the cart, with no additional effort on your part. The Sobeys Smart Cart features “multiple high-resolution cameras that capture 120 images per second,” which will allow the cart to recognize and identify items as you toss them into the cart. The cart even features weight sensors to help capture variable-weight items like meat and produce, and subtract an item from your total if you change your mind and put it back.

But the Smart Cart does more than just keep track of what you’re buying. A screen attached to the front can help you navigate the store, telling you where to find items on your list. It can also highlight nearby promotions, letting you know when an item is on sale or has a digital coupon available. And it can make additional product suggestions based on what you’ve already selected.


And when you’re all done with your shopping, you use the screen to enter your payment information, bag your items if you’d like (or you can place them into bags as you shop), then you leave – no waiting for a cashier or unloading your items onto a belt to be scanned and bagged.

The Smart Cart has been compared to Amazon Go, another checkout-free “grab and go” grocery concept that’s now expanded to 16 stores in four cities. Amazon Go’s technology uses strategically-placed cameras throughout the store to recognize items as you grab them, whether or not you use a shopping cart. But Caper says its solution is more practical for grocers like Sobeys, which might want access to the technology without making major changes to its stores. “Digitizing retail experience shouldn’t require a fortune to retrofit complicated camera systems on store ceilings and revamp store operations. Just a few plug-and-play Caper Carts would do,” the company explains.

The Smart Carts can also make in-store shopping pleasant and easy enough that shoppers who have drifted toward pickup and delivery might be tempted to come back into the store. “Busy checkout lines, difficult product location, and a lack of information on promotions and deals are issues that divert people’s attention away from local grocery stores to online shopping,” Caper says.

“While products and customer eating habits have evolved, the in-store grocery shopping experience has remained relatively static for the last 100 years,” Sobeys’ Vice President of Retail Support Mathieu Lacoursiere said in a statement. “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.” And lest anyone worry that the Smart Cart will put cashiers and baggers out of work, Sobeys says it will actually free up checkout staff to do other jobs. “The carts will also give our in-store teammates more time to interact with customers and answer questions about food and new products,” Lacoursiere said.

Sobeys has more than 1,500 stores across Canada, but so far, the Smart Cart will be featured in just one location in Oakville, Ontario. The success of this test run will determine whether the chain introduces Smart Carts across the country. And if that happens, Smart Carts could start showing up in a grocery store near you.

So if you consider grocery shopping to be too much work, just wait. Soon, your shopping cart may be able to do all the work for you.

Image source: Caper

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