Albertsons Cos. has partnered with Veeve Inc. to pilot “smart” shopping carts that enable customers to ring up items as they shop and pay without going through checkout.
Plans call for Albertsons to pilot artificial intelligence-powered Veeve Smart Carts at “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’re added to or removed from the cart, which also has a built-in scale that automatically captures the weight and calculates the price of unpackaged groceries, such as fresh produce. A touchscreen near the cart handle keeps a running total of the items added. When finished shopping, customers press the “checkout” button on the screen and tap to pay or insert a credit/debit card using the adjacent payment device. They also can choose to receive a receipt via email.
“Veeve Smart Carts offer a sophisticated yet simple self-checkout experience for people who value flexibility and time savings,” Alyse Wuson, senior director of omni experiences at Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., said in a statement. “Our goal is to enhance the grocery experience no matter how our guests choose to shop, and Veeve’s technology brings the ease and integration of e-commerce right to the grocery cart.”
To use the cart, customers enter their phone number on the screen to check in and place a handled Veeve canvas shopping bag into the basket. The smart cart platform integrates with store loyalty programs, including Albertsons’ Just For U, as well as with existing retailer mobile apps and ad networks, according to Veeve. Through the touchscreen, customers can look up and compare products and receive “turn by turn” directions to find items in the store, the company said. The screen also can present real-time product recommendations based on items already in the cart. Shoppers, too, can access their order history and personalized offers, clip digital coupons and request assistance.
Veeve noted that its smart cart, which is also being piloted by Western grocer Raley’s, deploys at grocery stores without the need for additional retrofit.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Albertsons Cos. to deliver a personalized in-store shopping experience. This deployment is an important and inevitable next step in connecting the consumer’s ecommerce activity with a totally new, digitally driven in-store shopping experience,” commented Shariq Siddiqui, co-founder and CEO of Veeve. “Working with Albertsons Cos., we are building a link between multiple consumer channels and the brands they trust while keeping customer loyalty central to the experience.”
The nation’s second-largest supermarket retailer, Albertsons operates 2,276 food and drug stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under such banners 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 field with its Just Walk Out cashierless technology — now at its Amazon Go convenience stores and selected Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market supermarkets — grocery chains have exhibited 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 already was being piloted at U.S. grocers such as The Kroger Co. (which branded the cart “KroGO”), Wakefern Food Corp. and Schnuck Markets. Sobeys Inc., one of Canada’s largest food and drug retailers, rolled out the Caper Cart after piloting the technology in October 2019.
Besides Just Walk Out, Amazon offers the Amazon Dash Cart, which was developed for Amazon Fresh stores and keeps track of shoppers’ purchases and allows them to complete their transaction while exiting the store. The Dash Cart is now available at 14 of the 30 Amazon Fresh locations, with the other 16 providing Just Walk Out shopping.