Supermarkets remain one of the most significant channels in the retail sector, both for consumers who prefer to shop in person and for the value they add to the wider economy. As of the end of last year, supermarket sales in the United States generated $765.98 billion in annual revenue, a 3.2% rise over the previous year.
Clearly, the supermarket industry is alive and well, but it could be about to undergo a seismic shift. According to research from Zebra, 64% of today’s shoppers want the ability to check out from anywhere in the store, with self-checkout and other types of automation prompting store staff to shift towards a knowledge-sharing approach, as opposed to transactional.
You’ve likely heard stories about AI (artificial intelligence) disrupting a wide range of industries, from healthcare to finance, but now it’s making its way into the realm of supermarket shopping in the form of a new technology developed by Shopic.
This game-changing device is a clip-on solution that can potentially transform the way we do our grocery shopping. Essentially, the device, which is about the size of an iPad mounted on top of a grocery cart, helps reduce customer experience friction as shoppers fill their baskets.
The “computer vision” AI can accurately identify products as they are placed, or thrown, into the cart.
This allows the shopper to view a running total of the products in their cart and to quickly identify the best deals for each item. It also provides personalized offers based on the shopper’s preferences and past purchasing behavior, and it empowers people to check out without needing to wait in any lines nor to manually scan any barcodes.
The grocery smart cart is hardly a new product category, with many national and regional chains currently rolling out implementations of different types, often in partnership with startups that provide solutions. Shopic differentiates itself from others in the space in that its device needs no installation and no dedicated full-cart hardware, instead working as an optional clip-on that works on top of standard existing trolley fleets.
How the Shopic shopping experience works
Shopic has created a hassle-free shopping experience with the AI smart cart. When customers enter a store, they can simply pick up a clip-on device off the charging wall and attach it to their grocery cart. The device will be synced to their store loyalty account, and they’ll be ready to go.
As the shopper moves through the store, the “computer vision” AI scans and identifies products. If a related product is discounted or on sale, shoppers can receive notifications in real time, alerting them of the sale. The AI can also recognize the location of carts within the store and provide shoppers with a map that helps them navigate to the desired product.
Not only does this save shoppers time, but it also encourages them to purchase items that they may have otherwise overlooked.
Once the customer has finished their shop and is ready to check out, all they need to do is simply process payment using the touchscreen and hang up the device on the charging shelf before they leave the store.
“Because our smart cart tech automatically identifies your items as you add them to your cart, you don’t have to worry about manual barcode scanning or waiting in a long line while someone else tries to complete their order. You also won’t have any unpleasant surprises at the cash register, since the real-time order total display helps you stay on budget by showing you exactly how much everything is going to cost,” said Raz Golan, CEO of Shopic.
If at any point, shoppers have any questions or need assistance, they can just press a button to request customer service support, upon which a store associate will arrive to assist them.
Empowering the merchant
In addition to the convenience the Shopic AI smart cart provides shoppers, it also provides a myriad of benefits to the merchant.
Due to the personalization capabilities of the Shopic AI smart cart, merchants can target shoppers with personalized offers and recommendations as they browse. Reducing checkout friction also encourages more frequent and larger transactions.
As a result, Shopic’s smart cart increased shoppers’ monthly spending by 8% and increased average basket size by 78%, according to a case study conducted using data generated by the company’s system.
Minimal financial investment
In comparison to other smart cart systems that involve full digital carts, overhead cameras for assistance, or retro-fitted carts with screens and cameras permanently attached, Shopic’s clip-on solution requires less investment from the grocery store initially and is easier to use by customers.
In addition, Shopic’s business model is subscription-based, so the stores don’t have to worry about upfront costs of setup and maintenance. This opens up the smart cart to more stores and helps them take advantage of the technology without a huge financial commitment.
The Shopic device also provides merchants with valuable insights into customer buying habits, which can be used to optimize their inventory, and create targeted marketing campaigns.
This data can also help inform decision-making regarding store layout, helping to improve the overall customer experience.
Will the AI smart cart catch on?
So, will Shopic, the Tel-Aviv-based startup, be able to revolutionize the shopping experience? Only time will tell, but with its focus on customer convenience and merchant insights, it certainly has the potential to become an integral part of the evolving grocery store experience.
After announcing $35 million in Series B funding in August, and with investors such as Qualcomm Ventures and Vintage Investment Partners, it looks like Shopic is well-positioned to make an impact in the supermarket industry. In the coming months and years, it will be interesting to see how the technology is received and if it can indeed revolutionize the supermarket shopping experience for shoppers and merchants alike.