Need to Know
- US grocery chain Kroger is piloting a new smart shopping cart called “KroGo.”
- KroGo carts can scan, weigh, and check out products, and even scan customer loyalty cards.
- With an ongoing need for contactless payments amid the pandemic, new scan-and-go options are becoming increasingly popular among grocery chains and other major retailers.
US supermarket chain Kroger is piloting a new “smart” shopping cart. The “KroGo” cart can scan and weigh products and provides a running total on a digital screen.
KroGo, which is being tested at a Kroger location in Cincinnati, works like this: Customers scan a product’s barcode and place it in the cart. Items that must be weighed are entered on the cart’s touch screen and weighed automatically when placed in the cart. Shoppers can also scan their loyalty cards, before exiting through the self check-out lane and leaving their carts in the lobby.
KroGo carts are powered by Caper, a tech firm that makes AI-powered smart carts that have also been piloted by grocery brands Sobeys and FoodCellar Market.
Caper carts incorporate “computer vision and sensing technologies” that recognize when items are placed in or removed from a cart. And they use deep learning AI technology to recognize items over time, meaning the need to even scan may eventually become obsolete. Caper carts also include a built-in scale to weigh produce sold by weight, a dashboard that provides recommendations and special promotions, and a credit card payment processor for easy checkout.
KroGo carts cannot be used to purchase gift cards, tobacco, or over-the-counter pharmacy items.
In an era where contactless payments are front-of-mind, self-checkout and mobile payment solutions for in-store shopping are growing increasingly popular. Scan-and-go options require less staff for companies and are much safer when it comes to public health concerns.
One example is UK grocer Marks & Spencer, which last year introduced its Mobile Pay Go feature, allowing customers to pay using their M&S mobile app. Shoppers can scan products using their mobile devices and pay with the card on file, eliminating the need to stand in line at even a self-checkout station.
And last summer, Walmart Canada announced a massive investment in “stores of the future,” which will blend the physical and digital shopping experience. Walmart’s new stores will feature “electronic shelf labels, shelf scanners that monitor product volumes, and a new checkout experience that reduces touchpoints.”
“Digital and analog channels no longer separate; they’re mixing for good reason,” explains Nicolai Salcedo, Walmart Canada’s chief information officer. “So they should be seamless for the customer. No one will deny that time is the new currency. And, for that reason, leading with technology is mandatory.”