The Kroger Co., the largest U.S. supermarket operator, is piloting an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered “smart” shopping cart from New York-based Caper Inc.
Caper announced the partnership with Kroger on Tuesday. Under the brand “KroGO” by Kroger, the Caper Cart has been quietly tested at a Kroger banner store in Cincinnati since last October. The technology allows shoppers to scan items and pay directly through the shopping cart, eliminating the need to queue at checkout.
“We began testing KroGo, a new smart shopping cart powered by Caper, in a store last fall in the Cincinnati area,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement. “KroGo offers customers a seamless shopping experience where they can scan items and pay, all at the shopping cart. Our expansion plans will be guided by insights from our customers and associates.”
The Caper Cart uses AI and machine learning to scan products as customers place them in the cart, which has a built-in scale for items sold by weight. A touchscreen near the cart handle displays a count of selected items, and an attached POS card terminal allows customers to pay for purchases directly at the cart. Shoppers pack their own groceries and once payment is made, they leave the store.
In addition to tracking purchases, the shopping cart screen can display shopping list recommendations and promotional offers, as well as wayfinding capabilities, according to Caper. Shoppers can also scan their loyalty card when checking out directly from the cart.
Caper noted that its smart cart offers grocery stores and other retailers a plug-and-play self-contained checkout solution that doesn’t require store upgrades or operational overhauls to deploy quickly.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for self-payment technology is driving grocers and retailers to innovate and adopt new technologies that keep shoppers safe and streamline payment,” said Lindon Gao, CEO and co-founder of Caper. “We are delighted to partner with Kroger on this pilot project and look forward to valuable feedback from its customers and associates.”
The Kroger pilot marks Caper’s third deployment with a national retail chain in the past 12 months. Sobeys Inc., one of Canada’s largest food and drug retailers, has deployed the Caper cart since drive technology in October 2019, while New York-based supermarket retailer Foodcellar & Co. launched the Caper Cart earlier in 2019. For small-format retailers, such as convenience stores, Caper recently introduced the Caper Counter, which encapsulates Caper Cart’s AI and product scanning capabilities in a “smart box” that provides self-checkout service for on-the-go customers.