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Will smart shopping carts transform the shopping experience at Albertsons?

Customers at a few dozen stores owned by Albertsons will have the option of using smart shopping carts that allow them to pick products and walk out of the store without having to stop at a checkout.

The grocery giant in November first tested the carts at two of its stores located in California and Idaho, reports CNBC. The decision to scale the pilot was based on results at those locations.

The carts, manufactured by Veeve, a retail tech startup founded by two former Amazon execs, “offer a sophisticated, yet simple self-checkout experience for people who value flexibility and time savings,” Alyse Wuson, senior director of omni experiences at Albertsons, said in a statement. “Our goal is to enhance the grocery experience no matter how our guests choose to shop, and Veeve’s technology brings the ease and integration of e-commerce right to the grocery cart.”

Albertsons is not alone in testing whether the high costs of smart carts can be justified by consumer usage in stores.

Instacart last October acquired Caper AI, a startup whose smart shopping tech has been tested by Kroger, Sobey’s and Wakefern. The delivery service’s CEO Fidji Simo said of the deal, “We’re focused on creating even more ways for retailers to develop unified commerce offerings that help address consumer needs across both online and in-store shopping.”

Amazon in 2020 introduced its Dash Cart to help customers with smaller orders (two bags) check out their purchases without having to stop at a register.

Albertsons has been engaged in a number of omnichannel initiatives in recent years with the goal of meeting its customers where and when they want to shop.

The grocer launched FreshPass, an Amazon Prime-like subscription service, that offers members unlimited free deliveries on orders of $30 or more. FreshPass members either pay $99 a year or $12.99 a month.

The supermarket chain operator has expanded its use of micro-fulfillment centers for online orders as well as in-store robots, automated grocery pickup kiosks and other new omnichannel technologies. Albertsons, last September, announced that it had entered into a deal with a video platform to engage customers through shoppable cooking videos on its site.

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