Technology

Instacart wants to get inside your grocery store

The same-day delivery pioneer, which reportedly plans to go public this year, launched a suite of new technology Monday to go with its existing platforms, all designed to connect the in-store and online shopping experience.
Instacart Caper Cart
Instacart Caper Cart / Photo courtesy Instacart

Instacart wants to get inside your grocery store.

Not just with its shoppers picking items for same-day delivery orders, but with your customers, too.

Instacart, which is reportedly planning to go public this year, launched a suite of new technology Monday designed to connect the in-store experience with the digital one.

“What if we could combine the convenience, speed and personalization of online grocery shopping with the inspiration and discovery that happens in a physical store?” David McIntosh, Instacart’s VP of connected stores, said in a company blog post. “We believe the future of grocery won’t be about choosing between shopping online and in-store. Most of us are going to do both. So, we want to bring the best of the online shopping experience to physical stores, and vice versa.”

Gourmet grocer Bristol Farms, a banner of Good Food Holdings, will be among the first retailers to use the full scope of Instacart’s new in-store offerings at its store in Irvine, Calif., the company said. The technology is slated to roll out in the next few months.

Instacart has been on an acquisitions tear in the last year or so, scooping up relevant tech companies in its attempt to dominate the market. Many of those acquisitions come into play in this latest initiative from the retail platform.

Instacart took WGB on a virtual tour of the new technology, which it is calling Connected Stores, last week. Here’s a look at those in-store offerings.

In October 2021, Instacart acquired artificial intelligence-powered shopping cart company Caper AI. Now, Instacart is out with the latest iteration of its Caper Cart, packed with scales, sensors, touchscreens and computer-vision tech that lets shoppers bag and go (no scanning needed) from the cart to the exit. This version of the Caper Cart is slimmer and lighter than the original and holds 65% more than the previous version. It is slated to debut at retailers, including Wakefern Food Corp. banners, in the coming months. The carts can be charged as a stack, rather than via individual chargers.

Instacart also introduced Scan & Pay, letting in-store shoppers scan items with their phone and pay with them.

Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer Wegmans last week confirmed it was ditching its scan-and-go payment option because of high rates of theft. Instacart said its version was designed “from day 1” with anti-theft security in mind, built with “rich algorithms” to defeat shoplifting.

Instacart is also adding a lists feature that lets shoppers sync their online grocery list with the Instacart app directly to the Caper Cart via a QR code. Items will be checked off the shopping list once they’re placed in the tech-enabled cart.

The San Francisco-based company is also debuting Carrot Tags, electronic shelf labels that can light up to help shoppers, Instacart shoppers and store workers find products more easily. The tags can also display product information and let consumers know whether the item is SNAP eligible.

Instacart purchased FoodStorm, an order-management system focused on grocery catering, last year. Under the Connected Stores program, FoodStorm will power in-store kiosks that will allow customers to place orders from multiple departments, say a cake from the bakery and a sandwich from the deli, and receive them at the same time.

“Nobody should be standing in line” at the grocery store,” McIntosh told WGB. “We as grocers have a habit of standing people up in line. The amazing thing about this technology is it’s getting rid of lines and freeing people up to enjoy the store and get inspired to discover more things.”

Finally, Instacart is launching a real-time inventory management system it calls Out of Stock Insights. Retailers will receive the same information given to Instacart shoppers about what items are out of stock.

All of the new technology is modular, Instacart said, meaning each piece can be used alone or with the others.

“We’re lowering the bar for our retailers to get started with this technology,” McIntosh said.

In May, Instacart confidentially filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a potential IPO.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported the company set a revenue record during the second quarter, with total revenue climbing to $621 million, up 39% from the prior year.

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