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AI may be coming to a grocery store near you.

Grocery delivery company Instacart is teaming up with retailers across the country to deploy its brand-new smart shopping carts.

The carts allow shoppers to scan their items directly in the cart, weigh produce and keep track of the total cost in real time. Customers are also able to use their loyalty accounts on the carts, giving them access to promotions and savings while they shop.

“The vast majority of shoppers are shopping on a budget,” David McIntosh, Instacart’s vice president and general manager of connected stores, told FOX Business. “Nobody wants to get to the checkout lane and have to put items back because you go over budget.”

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And shoppers agree. They tell FOX Business that overwhelmingly their favorite feature of the carts is seeing the running total of the items in their cart.

“When you’re on a budget you can see where you are at any given point. If you can continue, or if you need to switch items out,” said Keisha Branch, a customer at Fairway Market in New York City, one of the participating supermarkets.

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Instacart Caper Cart AI technology

The carts are powered by Caper AI, which Instacart acquired in 2021 for $350 million. McIntosh said that the carts use AI technology to power their advanced recognition, scanning and weighing items.

The goal is increased personalization. One day, the company envisions the carts recognizing shopping habits and recommending products or recipes based on one’s preferences or dietary restrictions.

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“We can really start to take the magic of the online experience and bring it to the store,” McIntosh said.

Instacart scan and pay technology

Instacart isn’t alone in its development and rollout of the smart shopping cart, either.

Brick-and-mortar grocery stores, which still boast a dominant market share in the industry, are facing greater competition from delivery and online businesses. In response, companies are looking to integrate digital elements into the shopping experience.

Amazon is developing its Dash Cart, which allows customers to log in and skip the checkout process. Albertsons is working with Seattle-based Veeve to deploy its smart carts in select stores, saying it reduces time spent in stores by 24 minutes.

Amazon Dash Cart Whole Foods Market

Israel-based Shopic and Shufersal supermarket chains are deploying more than 2,000 smart-cart clip-on attachments in their stores. Rochester, New York-based Wegmans is testing them as well.

Instacart’s Caper Carts are available or will be available in the coming months in select Kroger, Schnucks, Sobeys, ShopRite, Fairway Market, Bristol and Geissler’s stores.

“Customers shouldn’t have to choose between shopping in-store and online,” said McIntosh. “It should be one single unified mode that works really well together.” 

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