In an effort to provide customers with a more engaging, fun, faster way to shop, Sobeys is launching the first “intelligent” shopping cart in Canadian grocery stores.
Called Smart Cart, this new technology-enhanced cart is being piloted at the grocer's Glen Abbey Sobeys location in Oakville, Ont.
The cart's technology scans and weighs products when customers place them in the cart. It displays a running tally of purchases while the customer shops, and then allows them to pay on the spot with the cart, thus making the check-out process faster and easier.
"While products and customer eating habits have evolved, the in-store grocery shopping experience has remained relatively static for the last 100 years," says Mathieu Lacoursiere, vice-president, retail support at Sobeys.
"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. The carts will also give our in-store teammates more time to interact with customers and answer questions about food and new products."
Sobeys says it plans to evolve the cart to include additional features (beyond a speedy checkout), using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.
For example, the cart's screen will eventually help customers navigate the store to complete a shopping list, highlight promotions and make product suggestions to round out a recipe.
The cart is also expected to evolve from "scanning" product to "identifying" product. Each cart includes numerous high-resolution cameras that can capture 120 images per second as products are put in the cart, allowing the cart to learn how to identify each item. Sobeys says customers will eventually be able to just put their items into the cart without having to enter any information or scan barcodes.
Customer feedback will help shape improvements and additions along the way, according to the grocer.
"We're constantly looking for new ways to evolve the grocery shopping experience,” adds Lacoursiere. “During the Smart Cart pilot, we will engage with our customers in real time to better understand what inspires them and adds value to their shopping experience throughout the store."