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05/20/2022

Albertsons checks out smart carts

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Albertsons will deploy smart carts at select stores (Photo: Business Wire).

Albertsons Cos. is entering an in-store technology space containing heavyweights including Amazon and Kroger.

The grocery conglomerate will make Veeve Smart Carts available to customers at a few dozen stores across the country. Once launched later this year, consumers will be able to use the smart carts to skip the checkout line with a streamlined and contactless way to shop.

Veeve Smart Carts will provide a frictionless shopping experience for Albertsons shoppers, enabled by a touchscreen that provides a running total for in-cart items and a built-in scale for produce purchase. The retailer also plans to integrate the tech-enhanced carts with its Albertsons for U loyalty program. Once done shopping, customers can complete payment on their cart and walk out, skipping the checkout line.

Amazon introduced a similar smart cart called Amazon Dash Cart, which it deploys at select locations of its Amazon Fresh brick-and-mortar grocery format, in July 2020. Leveraging a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items customers put in the cart and connecting directly to customer Amazon accounts, Dash Cart streamlines the shopping experience a bit further by enabling automatic payment. 

And in October 2021, Instacart acquired Caper AI, a provider of “smart cart” and automated checkout counter solutions. Caper’s object recognition system lets customers place items into their cart without having to scan or weigh them, and check out right at the cart.

The carts also feature touch-enabled screens that aid navigation of brick-and-mortar grocery store aisles and make product suggestions based on what’s in a customer’s cart. Retailers including Canadian grocer Sobey’s, as well as Kroger and Wakefern, use Caper smart carts in some stores.

“Veeve Smart Carts offer a sophisticated, yet simple self-checkout experience for people who value flexibility and time savings,” said Alyse Wuson, senior director of omni experiences at Albertsons Cos. “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.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Albertsons Cos. to deliver a personalized in-store shopping experience. This deployment is an important and inevitable next step in connecting the consumer’s e-commerce activity with a totally new, digitally driven in-store shopping experience,” said Shariq Siddiqui, Veeve co-founder and CEO. “Working with Albertsons Cos., we are building a link between multiple consumer channels and the brands they trust while keeping customer loyalty central to the experience.”

As of Feb. 26, 2022, Albertsons Companies operated 2,276 retail stores with 1,722 pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, the company operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia with 24 banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci's Food Lovers Market.