Stores

Two Missouri grocery stores deploy Instacart’s AI-powered smart cart

The delivery platform plans to bring thousands of its Caper Carts to multiple retail partners by the end of the year.
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Instacart

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Two Missouri grocery stores deployed Instacart’s AI-powered smart carts this week, hitting aisles at Price Chopper in Parkville and McKeever’s Market & Eatery in Lee’s Summit, with plans to add more locations in the coming months. In Q1, Instacart deployed carts at Kroger, Schnucks, and Wakefern stores, and signed a contract with Save Mart Companies.

Instacart’s “Caper Carts” have become a central pillar of its strategy to help grocery partners deliver an omnichannel experience in-store, allowing customers to scan items as they shop, track their spending in real time, and access deals and coupons. The company also touts the technology’s ability to offer personalized recommendations and “gamification elements” that reward customers for hitting spending thresholds. It plans to roll out thousands of the carts to retail partners by the end of 2024.

“We made an early bet that smart carts would be the winning technology for transforming the in-store grocery experience because it’s a form factor people recognize and it doesn’t require retrofitting a whole store with large capex investments,” the company said in its Q1 2024 shareholder letter.

The letter emphasized that Instacart is still in the early stages of making its carts widely available, but noted that, “for perspective, it took online grocery delivery roughly a decade to reach a double-digit penetration level.”

The smart cart is no newcomer to the grocery scene; there have been several attempts in the last few years to popularize them. Kroger piloted a version of the Caper Cart back in 2021, and Albertsons experimented with the concept the following year. This spring, Amazon said it was prioritizing smart carts at larger Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh stores as an alternative to Just Walk Out technology. It also announced that it would start selling its Dash Carts to third-party retailers.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.