The Kroger Co., the largest U.S. supermarket operator, is piloting an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered “smart” shopping cart from New York-based Caper Inc.
Caper announced the partnership with Kroger on Tuesday. Branded as “KroGO” by Kroger, the Caper Cart has been quietly tested at a Kroger-banner store in Cincinnati since last October. The technology enables shoppers to scan items and pay directly via the cart, eliminating the need to wait in line at the checkout area.
“We began testing KroGo, a new smart shopping cart powered by Caper, at one store last fall in the Cincinnati area,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement. “KroGo offers customers a seamless shopping experience where they can scan items and pay, all on the cart. Our expansion plans will be guided by insights from our customers and associates.”
The Caper Cart uses AI and machine learning to scan products as customers put them in the cart, which has a built-in scale for items sold by weight. 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.
Besides tracking purchases, the cart’s screen can display shopping list recommendations and promotional offers as well as provide wayfinding capabilities, according to Caper. Shoppers, too, can scan their loyalty card when checking directly from the cart.
Caper noted that its smart cart offers grocery and other retailers a plug-and-play autonomous checkout solution that doesn’t require a store retrofit or operational overhaul to deploy quickly.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for autonomous checkout technology is driving grocers and retailers to innovate and adopt new technologies that keep shoppers safe and streamline checkout,” stated Lindon Gao, CEO and co-founder of Caper. “We are excited to partner with Kroger on this pilot and look forward to gaining valuable feedback from its customers and associates.”
The Kroger pilot marks Caper’s third deployment with a national retail chain in the past 12 months. Sobeys Inc., one of Canada’s largest food and drug retailers, has rolled out the Caper Cart since piloting the technology in October 2019, while New York-based supermarket retailer Foodcellar & Co. went live with the Caper Cart earlier in 2019. For small-format retailers, such as convenience stores, Caper recently introduced the Caper Counter, which encapsules the Caper Cart’s AI and product scanning capabilities in a “smart box” that provides self-checkout service for on-the-go customers.