Smart basket smoothes the shopping
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.