AI-powered carts at Schnucks saves customers time, money – Spectrum News

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BALLWIN, Mo. — AI-powered shopping carts recently launched at two St. Louis-area Schnucks locations, which have been saving time and money for customers.


What You Need To Know

  • The new high-tech carts are part of Inastart’s Caper Cart pilot program. Ten AI-powered carts each are located at Twin Oaks and Lindenwood locations
  • There are seven cameras embedded within the cart, which scan items as they are placed in the cart and prices are added to the customer’s running total. The items also are subtracted if they are taken out of the cart
  • The cart has a sensitive scale to detect weighted items such as produce. Customers will enter the name of the item on the touch screen or the PLU code. The cart weighs the items once they are placed inside, and the calculated cost is added to the total bill
  • Each cart can hold up to 80 pounds of items. Additionally, customers can either bag their items as they shop or bag their groceries when they are finished.

The new high-tech carts are part of Inastart’s Caper Cart pilot program. Ten AI-powered carts each are located at Twin Oaks and Lindenwood locations, according to Chace MacMullan, senior director of digital experience for Schnucks.

Caper Carts will be launched at the Cottleville store in the coming weeks.

“It’s been an overwhelmingly positive response,” MacMullan said. “Customers love that they’re tracking how much they’re spending. And then they love the time that they can shop at their own pace, grab things and go right out after paying.”

The Caper Cart features a touch screen where customers can log into their rewards account, scroll through and apply coupons and check out when they are done shopping. The cart accepts all major credit and debit cards.

There are seven cameras embedded within the cart, which scan items as they are placed in the cart and prices are added to the customer’s running total, MacMullan said. The items also are subtracted if they are taken out of the cart.

The cart has a sensitive scale to detect weighted items such as produce. Customers will enter the name of the item on the touch screen or the PLU code. The cart weighs the items once they are placed inside, and the calculated cost is added to the total bill.

“If you really think about the grocery experience, it really hasn’t changed in the last 80 years, short of the introduction of self-checkout,” said Ahmed Beshry, co-founder of Caper and senior director at Instacart.

“Not a lot of technology has come into the grocery stores, not a lot of innovation in the space.”

Each cart can hold up to 80 pounds of items, according to MacMullan. Additionally, customers can either bag their items as they shop or bag their groceries when they are finished.

“Talking to store owners, they thought the technology that we presented them with was something that would really introduce a fantastic customer experience and convenience,” Beshry said.

He mentioned that the Caper Cart is the only smart cart that offers stack charging capabilities.

“I think the holistic solution is far more advanced than what you’d see on the market today,” Beshry said. “Our core focus is building the best product that we can.”

A nice surprise to customers has been digital coupons popping up on the touch screen on items they place items in their carts.

“We were extremely pleased with the personalization and the integration of our rewards program, and what we can do there right on the cart that our customers already love,” MacMullan said.

When buying alcohol, a customer’s ID will still be checked by a Schnucks employee as they will get an alert, according to MacMullan. He said employees have been trained on how to use the carts and can help customers with questions.

“Employees have been great,” MacMullan said. “Just like customers, they’re excited to use them as well.”

He mentioned employees have enjoyed hearing the positive comments from customers. Over the course of the pilot program, MacMullan said customer and employee feedback will be gathered on the AI-powered carts.

“I’m super excited to see how many more people will try the technology out and how many more experiences we can change,” Beshry said.

“We’re extremely excited to be partnering with Schnucks. They’re a massive innovation partner of ours and they’re a retailer that you see focuses extremely hard on ensuring that their customers have the best experience possible.”

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