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Instacart adds AI capabilities for storefronts, smart carts

Instacart Caper Cart deals
Instacart is upgrading its Caper Cart smart cart solution.

Instacart is offering several AI-enabled new features as part of a broader upgrade to its Storefront and Caper Cart solutions.

Following are highlights of the grocery technology company’s enhancements to each offering:


Instacart Storefront is an end-to-end omnichannel digital commerce platform designed specifically for grocers. The new upgraded version includes AI-powered conversational search based on Open AI’s ChatGPT model, which interacts with users in a conversational style that mimics human interaction and uses machine learning (ML) to continually refine and improve its responses, as well as proprietary Instacart product data and AI models.

This feature is designed to enable customers to ask open-ended questions such as “What do I need to make fish tacos?” or “What’s a nutritious lunch for my kids?” directly in the search bar on retailers’ storefronts. 

Instacart is also introducing a new Storefront “In-Store” mode, which helps customers see what’s in stock, get details about items on their list – such as whether they’re EBT SNAP-eligible, sort items by aisle, and obtain access to in-store promotions and discounts.

In-Store mode will be available in select areas on retailers’ owned-and-operated apps, including Food Bazaar, Gelson’s, and Stew Leonards, and is also being tested on the Instacart App.

Other new Instacart Storefront features include new merchandising and marketing capabilities such as shoppable digital flyers, more self-serve capabilities that allow anyone to become an e-commerce administrator, and improved tooling and analytics. 

The new Instacart storefront is built on the same core infrastructure as the Instacart app, and gives retailers access to capabilities including those supported by Instacart’s 150 proprietary AI models. Instacart tests new features on its app and brings the most successful ones to retailers’ storefronts. 

These latest enhancements follow several new Storefront features Instacart introduced in August 2023.

Caper Carts

Instacart also unveiled a number of updates to its Caper Cart smart carts, which are already being deployed in stores across the U.S. by retailers such as Schnucks and Bristol Farms. Caper Cart, which Instacart acquired in October 2021, is equipped with scales, sensors, touchscreens, and computer vision technology.

New Caper Cart features include:

  • Upgraded AI models that improve the speed and precision of camera and weight sensors. The models update automatically and learn over time.
  • The ability to order made-to-order items like deli sandwiches or custom cakes directly from the carts leveraging the Instacart FoodStorm order management solution. Customers can order from their Caper Cart as they browse the aisles. 
  • New in-store rewards for Caper Carts so retailers can offer customers points, coupons, or badges for completing actions like logging into a loyalty account, adding certain items to the cart, or trying a Caper Cart for the first time.
  • A new Caper Cart dock, which lets retailers provide a permanent place for Caper Carts to be stored and charged. Caper Carts offer stacked charging, so customers can take and return them just like they would with traditional shopping carts and no need for carts to be plugged in individually. 

“We’ve long believed the future of grocery – and commerce in general – isn’t online or in-store, it’s both. And now, more than ever, it’s being supercharged with AI,” said Asha Sharma, COO, Instacart. “We know that omnichannel customers in particular are more valuable to retailers, which is why Instacart is developing more solutions that help retailers serve their customers no matter how they shop. And, good data is the foundation for good AI solutions for retailers. Our operational advantage is built around our dynamic grocery catalog – one of the largest in the industry – which includes 1.4 billion items and more than 6,000 item updates per second."

“We know that our customers love shopping our weekly flyer,” said Diane Colgan, senior VP, marketing for Northeast Grocery Inc. supporting Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops stores. “The new Instacart Storefront will make it even easier for us to offer more personalized options when they shop online or in stores. And by introducing In-Store mode, our customers will be able to shop deals no matter how they choose to shop. Introducing these new products reflects our dedication to delivering an enhanced and enjoyable digital shopping experience.”

[Read more: Northeast Grocery supports ad targeting, e-commerce with Instacart]

Based in San Francisco, Instacart partners with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to facilitate online shopping, delivery and pickup services from more than 80,000 stores across North America on the Instacart Marketplace.

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