Instacart announced earlier this week that it has acquired “smart” shopping cart company Caper, Inc. for $350 million in cash and stock. The artificial intelligence-powered carts enable shoppers to scan items they select from grocery shelves and pay for them directly via the cart. Instacart said that the Caper Cart will become part of its roster of solutions for retail partners.
Similar to Amazon’s smart cart, the Caper Cart scans products as customers place them inside, and a built-in scale prices items sold by weight. In addition, a touchscreen near the handle displays a running total of items selected, and an attached point-of-sale terminal allows customers to pay and leave without having to go through a checkout aisle. Product recommendations and promotions are displayed based on items already in the cart, and wayfinding capabilities help shoppers navigate the grocery store aisles.
According to Instacart, customers will eventually be able to create online shopping lists and browse recipes ahead of time, then check off items on the list as they shop. Instacart also noted that the cart will enable its personal shoppers to find products more efficiently and bypass the checkout lines.
The Caper Cart has been approved by the federal government’s National Type Evaluation Program, which certifies that the cart can accurately sell items priced by weight and measures. The cart is already in limited use by Kroger and Wakefern, among others.
Instacart has partnered with more than 600 North American retailers – including 175 grocers – and delivers from nearly 55,000 stores in over 5,500 cities in the U.S. Its online shopping and delivery service is accessible to more than 85% of U.S. households and 90% of Canadian households.