Popular Grocery Store Chains Now Using Smart Shopping Carts

The next time you go to the grocery store you could very well find yourself using a smart shopping cart.

By Kristi Eckert | Published

grocery store security smart shopping cart

The pandemic and the vast number of worker shortages, particularly in the retail space, that resulted because of it has motivated many businesses to look to technology as a tool to alleviate the pandemic-induced percolating problems. White Castle is using a robot to flip burgers. McDonald’s is working on integrating AI into its drive-thru infrastructure. And Panera is leaning on an automated coffee-making system to support the beverage side of its business. Innovations are cropping up everywhere. Now, according to CNBC, some grocery chains are beginning to test out the functionality of smart shopping carts.

Albertson’s is one grocery store chain that has already jumped on the chance to test out smart shopping carts in its stores. They did this by partnering with Veeve. Veeve is a Seattle-based start-up that was launched in 2018 by two former Amazon employees. Since its launch, its founders have been working on developing their smart shopping cart and contact-less shopping mission.

The smart shopping cart works like a mobile self-checkout system, essentially merging the act of shopping with the self-checkout process. The cart is outfitted with a tablet and is capable of syncing with a customer’s phone. As a person shops, they scan the items that they are putting into their cart with their phone. Those scanned items then show up on the screen of the tablet attached to the cart. Hence, the cart keeps track of a person’s grocery order total in real-time as they add items. When a person is finished they simply have to complete the checkout process via the tablet and be on their way without ever having to wait in a checkout line.

Thus far, Albertson’s has been testing out the smart shopping carts in two of its stores in California and Idaho. And based on the immensely positive feedback they’ve been getting from those locations they are planning to expand the number of stores where these carts will be available in. It’s easy to see why Albertson’s is investing in smart shopping carts. This is because these carts present benefits on the sides of both the consumer and the business. For a consumer, using the cart gives them complete control over their entire shopping experience and eliminates the need to stand in any long lines. For the business, a happy consumer is always good, but the smart shopping carts also serve to take part of the burden off staff that could potentially be overwhelmed by a surge of shoppers. That is especially true if a store is operating with less than a full roster of workers.

However, while there are numerous benefits to be gained from integrating smart shopping carts into grocery stores, there are some challenges. Namely, these carts do not come cheap. Depending on the model, Veeve charges $5,000 to $10,000 per cart. Those numbers add up quickly, even for mega-chains with tons of liquid capital to pull from. Hence, it’s likely that smart shopping carts won’t be coming to a grocer near you anytime soon. Still, there are many start-ups entering to compete in the emerging and potentially lucrative space. With more competitors abound, perhaps, some will find innovative ways to drive the price down and make smart shopping carts a more viable option for grocery stores across the country to consider.