Amazon’s cashier-free store is certainly an exciting development in the world of retail, but the kind of technology that powers it is expensive and a challenge to set up, leaving it out of reach for most store owners.
New York City-based Caper offers another route to cashier-free stores that costs a fraction of Amazon’s technology. It comes in the form of a customized shopping cart that scans products as you go so you don’t have to waste time at a checkout — whether manned or automated — when you’re done.
The cart also includes a touchscreen that can display a store map and highlight daily deals as you make your way around the store. The current design requires you to scan each item’s barcode as you put it in the cart, but Caper will soon launch a more advanced version that uses image-recognition cameras and a weight sensor to automatically ID an item, making the shopping experience even more seamless. Caper calls it a “drop and go” experience.
The company says its shopping carts are already being used at two grocery stores in New York City, with the system helping to increase sales at both outlets by nearly 20 percent. The plan is to launch them at 150 more stores during 2019.
No structural work is required to use Caper’s system, which means a store doesn’t have to temporarily close to install costly equipment. This could make it an attractive option for store owners looking to create a more appealing shopping experience without the expense of technology similar to that seen in an Amazon Go store.
“Busy checkout lines, difficult product location, and a lack of information on promotions and deals are issues that divert people’s attention away from local grocery stores to online shopping,” Eduardo Sanchez-Iriarte, director of operations at Caper, wrote in a post about the company’s tech-laden cart. “With all the needs of customers and the constraints of grocers in mind, we launched our first product and built a solution that brings a seamless retail experience and doesn’t require significant store overhaul.”
He continued: “As the first A.I.-powered shopping cart, our smart technology identifies items as soon as they are tossed into the cart, and helps shoppers find the exact location of the products they are looking for, all while allowing them to ultimately skip the checkout line.”
An increasing number of companies are looking at ways to create the best frictionless shopping experience, with outfits such as Zippin and Grabango working on similar systems to Amazon Go. But for a more cost-effective solution that’s simple to set up, Caper believes its shopping cart is hard to beat.