Amazon opened its first Go grocery store in Seattle, inviting shoppers to walk in, grab what they need and walk out without having to interact with a cashier or machine at a checkout station.
On Monday, Instacart announced a similar experience. Connected Stores will debut a handful of services similar to Amazon at the high-end grocery store Bristol Farms in Irvine, California, a Good Food Holdings company acquired by Emart, South Korea's largest retailer, for $275 million in 2018. (Can't wait to try it.)
In the coming months, consumers will have the ability to see and use the Connected Stores technology — including Caper Carts, Scan & Pay, Lists, Carrot Tags, and FoodStorm software.
Good Food Holdings will also use Storefront Pro to power Bristol Farms’ online store, connect it to its physical store to create a better experience across both.
For retailers, this means eliminating repetitive tasks so employees can focus on things like customer service and higher profits, since customers who shop online and in-person are more engaged and spend more.
Data is one benefit that the release or company doesn't talk about.
The ability to tie online and offline purchases will ease the burden of ad targeting. Not only does it mean more data per individual, but it gives retailers and brands a better understanding of why consumers purchase some products online, while they purchase other products in stores.
Instacart describes Connected Stores as “a bundle of new and existing Instacart Platform technologies that will help grocers build a unified, seamless, personalized experience” online and in-store. It’s not just about helping retailers build websites and apps, but rather connecting all of Instacart ecommerce solutions like Storefront Pro with new in-store technologies.
Services include a new model of Caper Cart, a smart cart powered by artificial intelligence (AI) equipped with scales, sensors, touchscreens, and computer vision technology.
The screen helps customers navigate the store, and unlike self-checkout terminals and other smart carts, the scanless technology eliminates the need to manually scan items.
The items get dropped and checked out from the cart. Instacart says the new cart is slimmer and holds 65% more than the previous version.
Then there is Scan & Pay, which enables consumers to scan items as they shop and pay for them using a mobile phone. Scan & Pay links purchased items in the store to the consumer’s online account, making it easier to buy them again.
Other services include Lists, Carrot Tags, FoodStorm Department Orders, and Out of Stock Insights.
Carrot Tags are smart electronic shelf labels with pick-to-light capabilities that make it easy to find products and learning about new ones. Out of Stock Insights help retailers identify when items are running low or out of stock in real-time so they can alert associates.