Two Wegmans Food Markets stores are testing a clip-on device that turns a standard grocery shopping cart into a multifunction “smart” cart.
Rochester, New York-based Wegmans on Monday confirmed that it’s piloting Shop-E, a frictionless checkout device from Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup Shopic, in supermarkets at 675 Alberta Dr. in Amherst, New York, and at 3195 Monroe Ave. in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford.
Shopic’s Shop-E artificial intelligence-powered, clip-on touchscreen device employs computer vision algorithms to identify items placed in the cart in real time, while displaying a running total of their purchases as well as product promotions and discounts on related products. The system also acts as a self-serve checkout interface, enabling customers to pay for their groceries without having to the stand in line to pay. Shoppers remove the device when they’re done and roll the cart out to the parking lot.
“We are doing a test-and-learn pilot with smart shopping carts in two stores. It is an early stage technology and we’re in the preliminary stage of our pilot,” Tracy Van Auker, public relations manager at Wegmans, said in an email statement. “As such, we recently selected customers to test the new technology as we take an iterative approach and focus on gathering feedback from a small group of customers.”
Shop-E sits in a charger shelf unit, and shoppers take the device and fit it into a plastic mount attached to the cart. Shopic has noted that Shop-E can be used with any shopping cart and—unlike with other smart cart solutions—customers can still use the cart to transport their groceries out to the parking lot, “completing a truly frictionless, shelf-to-car shopping journey.”
No further details on Wegmans’ test of Shopic’s technology—including a potential rollout to other stores—were available because the pilot got under way only recently.
“Since we are in the early stages of our limited pilot, we aren’t yet able to share any specifics on next steps,” Van Auker said.
For Wegmans, the smart cart device offers an alternative to Wegmans SCAN, a free self-checkout app for that the supermarket chain discontinued in September due to a high theft rate.
After downloading the Wegmans SCAN app to their smartphones, customers were able to scan groceries as they shopped, put them in their cart and/or reusable bags and then quickly pay for the items at any self-checkout station by scanning the on-screen barcode. Wegmans went live with the app in the spring of 2019 after a successful test with employees and then expedited its rollout during the pandemic to provide a contactless shopping solution. Despite strong customer feedback on the app’s convenience, Wegmans told WGB last September that excessive shoplifting made the digital tool unsustainable.
“Unfortunately, the losses we are experiencing prevent us from continuing to make it available in its current state,” the grocer stated at the time.
Shopic, meanwhile, is taking aim at the Amazon Dash Cart with Shop-E. The device—deployed by grocers in Europe, the Americas and Israel—uses a camera duo inside the cart to support catalogs of more than 50,000 items as well as cover edge cases. The algorithm can identify products thrown into the cart when it’s in motion or when multiple products are put into the cart simultaneously.
According to the company, deployments showed that Shop-E raised shoppers’ monthly spending by 8%. Shopic also provides real-time inventory management and customer shopping insights for retailers through an analytics dashboard. Information also includes aisle maps, promotion monitoring and new-product adoption metrics.
Last August, Shopic secured funding to spur the rollout of its clip-on device in the United States and Europe. The $35 million Series B investment round, led by Qualcomm Ventures, brought Shopic’s total funding to $56 million. Other investors included Vintage Investment Partners and Clal Insurance, together with Shopic’s existing investors IBI Tech Fund, Tal Ventures, Claridge Israel and Israeli supermarket operator Shufersal.
Amazon in July launched an upgraded version of its Dash Cart smart shopping cart, which brought added functionality, holds more groceries and can by taken by shoppers all the way to their car. The introduction of the new version also coincided with the rollout of the Dash Cart—previously available only in Amazon Fresh stores—to Whole Foods Market locations.
Other grocery industry players also have delved into the smart shopping cart arena.
In October 2021, Instacart acquired smart cart maker Caper Inc. in a $350 million deal. Caper’s AI-powered cart allows shoppers to scan items they select off store shelves and pay for them directly via the cart, eliminating the need to wait at checkout. Caper’s cart already was being piloted at U.S. grocers such as The Kroger Co. (which branded the cart “KroGO”), Wakefern Food Corp. and Schnuck Markets. Sobeys Inc., one of Canada’s largest food and drug retailers, rolled out the Caper Cart after testing the solution in October 2019.
And this past May, Veeve Inc. unveiled a partnership with Albertsons Cos. to pilot its AI-powered shopping carts. Veeve Smart Carts enable shoppers to scan, pay and go. The technology combines barcode scanning and computer vision to identify products added to or removed from the cart. A built-in scale captures the weight and calculates the price of unpackaged groceries, such as produce, and a touchscreen device keeps a running total of the purchase. When done shopping, customers press the “checkout” button and tap to pay or insert a credit/debit card using an adjacent payment device.
Plans call for Albertsons to pilot the Veeve Smart Carts at “a few dozen stores” across the country, Seattle-based Veeve said. Its smart cart also is being tested by Western grocer Raley’s.