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Schnuck Markets to roll out AI-based Instacart smart carts

Schnucks Caper Cart
Schnucks is rolling out Instacart smart carts.

Schnuck Markets Inc. is deploying artificial intelligence (AI)-equipped shopping carts from Instacart in select stores this fall.

Beginning in fall 2023, the regional Midwest grocer will implement Instacart Caper Cart smart carts, which automatically identify items as they are added to the cart using computer vision and AI. This allows customers to bag as they shop, skip the line, and seamlessly check out on the cart from anywhere in the store.

Rollout of Caper Carts will begin at select Schnucks St. Louis stores this fall, with a broader planned rollout later in 2023 following initial deployments. Caper Cart, which Instacart acquired in October 2021, is equipped with scales, sensors, touchscreens, and computer vision technology.

The screen helps shoppers navigate the store, and proprietary scanless technology allows customers to drop them in the cart to be checked off a premade online list. Retailers including the ShopRite and Fairway Market banners of Wakefern Food Corp. have also deployed Caper Carts.

For the first time, select Caper Carts will feature a bottom rack for bulky and heavy items. In addition to fully automated Caper Carts that automatically detect items as they are placed in the cart, Schnucks will also be testing a Lite version, where customers manually scan items before placing them in the cart.

Customers will also be able to use their Schnucks Rewards loyalty account with the Caper Cart, providing them access to clipped promotions and allowing them to view deals from the weekly circular as they shop store aisles. 

“As a third and fourth generation, family-owned grocer, we're always thinking about how we can best serve our customers while also driving the digital transformation of the grocery industry. As part of that effort, we're proud to deepen our partnership with Instacart and further bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping for Schnucks customers," said Chace MacMullan, senior director of digital experience at Schnucks. "We believe the future of grocery will lean heavily into personalization - whether it's achieved through in-store smart carts or by providing the best possible e-commerce experience for our customers."

"We're proud to partner with Schnucks on their rollout of Instacart's Caper Carts, which bring together the best of online and in-store shopping to spearhead their digital transformation and create a truly convenient and personalized experience for customers," said David McIntosh, VP and GM of connected stores at Instacart.

Schnucks expands Instacart collaboration

Schnucks first partnered with Instacart in 2017 for same-day delivery, and has since deployed a number of Instacart Platform omnichannel technologies. These include the Carrot Ads solution that lets CPG brands directly connect with customers as they shop at Schnucks online with targeted ads, as well as the Eversight pricing and promotions application for real-time optimization of in-store and online prices.

Schnucks also plans to pilot the Carrot Tags pick-to-light solution that lets order pickers tap an item on their mobile phone to have the corresponding ESL flash to making it easier to find items on the shelf in its stores in the coming months. 

Schnucks investigates AI

Caper Carts do not represent Schnucks’ first foray into AI technology. The grocer also utilizes Simbe Robotics’ autonomous, AI-based shelf-scanning “Tally” robots at all of its stores. The roving device traverses store aisles up to three times per day and autonomously captures on-shelf data including inventory position, price accuracy, and promotional execution.

In addition, the grocer utilizes the Picadeli artificial intelligence (AI)-based salad bar at 22 Schnucks stores in Missouri and Illinois, as well as its Eatwell Market banner locations. Through proprietary software and hardware, the Picadeli solution enables full traceability of the Schnucks supply chain.

In addition, by scanning a QR code, the retailer can ensure products do not stay out longer than allowed by receiving signals for the need to refilling and reorder.

Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets Inc. operates 115 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Instacart partners with more than 1,200 national, regional, and local retail banners to facilitate online shopping, delivery and pickup services from more than 80,000 stores across North America.

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