Smart bas­ket smoothes the shop­ping

Taranaki Daily News - - Business - CHLOE WIN­TER

A shop­ping cart with a cam­era at­tached could be a game-changer in re­tail.

The Smart­cart prom­ises to elim­i­nate the need for bar­code scan­ning, check­outs and queue­ing. Shop­pers pair a smart­phone app with a shop­ping cart, and as they add prod­ucts to it, a cam­era recog­nises the goods and adds them to the phone’s vir­tual bas­ket.

The app, which is loaded with a cus­tomer’s credit or debit card de­tails, then al­lows the shop­per to leave the store with a bas­ket full of items. The app au­to­mat­i­cally bills the cus­tomer’s ac­count.

As well as record­ing items, Smart­cart also iden­ti­fies pat­terns in a cus­tomer’s be­hav­iour, and makes sug­ges­tions for recipes, and guides users around the store based on their prod­uct choices.

Four Square Eller­slie, which falls un­der su­per­mar­ket co-op­er­a­tive Food­stuffs’ um­brella, will be the first store in the world to trial Smart­cart, how­ever, a start date is yet to be set.

First Re­tail Group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Wilkin­son said cus­tomers were con­stantly em­brac­ing new tech­nolo­gies.

‘‘We’d ex­pect this to be well-re­ceived in ur­ban ar­eas where peo­ple of­ten shop on a daily ba­sis, es­sen­tially mak­ing the su­per­mar­kets their larder.’’

Food­stuffs North Is­land chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Peter Mug­gle­ston said Smart­Cart would not re­place the check­out.

‘‘We are giv­ing cus­tomers more op­tions by adding a third pay­ment so­lu­tion, and we’ll re­de­ploy staff if needed from the check­out to of­fer ad­vice and help cus­tomers in the store in other ways.’’

First Union spokesman Mor­gan God­frey did not think in­creased au­toma­tion would lead to check­out job losses.

‘‘An­a­lysts said self-check­outs sig­nalled the end of check­out op­er­a­tors, but they’re still around. A good num­ber of cus­tomers pre­fer face-to-face ser­vice.’’

Smart­cart, which can be used in any shop, is the brain­child of Wil­liam Chom­ley, who founded Auck­land firm Imagr.

Chom­ley came up with the idea two years ago to im­prove con­ve­nience, and help elim­i­nate the frus­tra­tion that comes with queu­ing at the check­out.

Imagr founder Wil­liam Chom­ley, left, with Food­stuffs North Is­land chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Peter Mug­gle­ston at Four Square Eller­slie, the first New Zealand store to of­fer Smart­carts.

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