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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.