Sobeys debuts Smart Carts with self-checkout at your fingertips
Enduring a lengthy checkout line is a potential annoyance each time you set foot inside a busy grocery store.
That’s particularly true during the evening rush, when shoppers descend on grocery stores for last-minute dinner items.
Instead of opening more aisles and hiring more cashiers, a Canadian grocery chain says it’s introducing an innovative pilot program to help customers bypass lines altogether.
On Oct. 30, Sobeys — a Nova Scotia-based grocery chain — unveiled Smart Carts, a fleet of 10 intelligent grocery carts that scan and weigh products as customers place them in the cart. The carts feature touch screens that resemble the kind you might find in a self-checkout line. The screens display a running tally of purchases while customers shop and allow them to pay on the spot once they’re finished shopping, according to the company.
In a video released by Sobeys, a customer scans and places food items in grocery bags inside the cart instead of going to a checkout line and having purchases bagged by an employee — a process that Sobeys labels the “greatest point of customer friction.”
“While products and customer eating habits have evolved, the in-store grocery shopping experience has remained relatively static for the last 100 years,” Mathieu Lacoursiere, Sobeys vice-president for retail support, said in a company statement. “This is a unique way for us to test innovative new technologies … The carts will also give our in-store teammates more time to interact with customers and answer questions about food and new products,” the statement added.
Sobeys says their Smart Carts are equipped with AI and machine learning technology. As the carts improve, the company says, the carts’ screens will be able to help customers navigate grocery stores, complete shopping lists and make product suggestions for recipes.
Lacoursiere told the CBC that the new technology is not being introduced to replace human workers, a promise many grocery chains have made in recent months as new innovations arrive.
Early customer reviews have been positive, says the CBC.