Instacart Faces Fresh Smart Cart Competition

The battle for smart cart primacy is going full steam ahead as segment leader Instacart is challenged by new players looking to break its dominance in the mass omnichannel grocery category.

Among the latest to weigh in, Japanese tech firm Retail AI announced on Thursday (Sep 15) that it would partner with Toshiba Tec and its ELERA commerce platform to scale its cashierless technology to more retailers at a time when more customers are back in the stores doing their own shopping.

“The Smart Shopping Cart is Retail AI’s flagship solution, enabling shoppers to complete their shopping experience with seamless self-checkout,” the joint venture said. ad he said, adding that the integration of the two companies’ expertise was aimed at “delivering greater convenience for shoppers and more efficient operations for retailers.”

toshiba HE WAS The platform integrates with stores’ own POS and inventory systems, enabling retailers to create new in-store shopping experiences with a three-pronged solution that unifies “core microservices, IoT touchpoints, and data analytics” to support innovation and new features.

Watch: Instacart Acquires Smart Cart Builder Caper AI to Power Omnichannel for Grocery Customers

And that’s not the only new foray into this fast-growing, futuristic corner of retail. On Monday (September 12), Tel Aviv-based A2Z Smart Technologies Corp. Announced a similar pilot for its Cust2Mate Smart Carts with The Mall Group, a major mall operator in Thailand. Fujitsu Open Retail Solutions is another big tech player going up against Instacart in two ways: offering both an Instacart-style contactless experience, and now piloting in-store smart carts for consumers.

“This is another important milestone for the company as it not only validates our offering in another region, but integrating our solution with another world leading POS system like Fujitsu opens up a wealth of opportunities around the world.” Cust2Mate CEO Rafael Yam said. “With existing integrations with NCR and Toshiba POS systems already in place, we have made our adoption by retailers around the world a much easier option.”

Navigating the aisles intelligently

In October 2021, Instacart acquired Caper AI, whose smart cart technology is a pioneer in the space. In August, Caper CEO and instacart Vice president Lindon Gao told Karen Webster of PYMNTS that the vision goes beyond Instacart’s army of personal shoppers to the consumer.

Referring to the use of Caper Cart outside of the Instacart ecosystem, Gao said, “By simplifying the checkout process for customers, retailers now have the ability to bring their staff who are usually behind a cash register. Now they can walk around the floor and help customers inside the store, enriching that experience. I think ultimately this will deliver a much greater benefit to the top line of retailers compared to just labor efficiency.”

Stored payment card credentials integrated with carts are “on the roadmap of what we want to potentially build. There are also other features like shopping lists and how we integrate them with Caper,” he added.

Watch: Smart carts with integrated payments put consumers in control of payment

PYMNTS research finds Instacart usage has held steady in 2022 despite a massive return to in-store shopping, with about 20% of grocery shopping consumers using same-day delivery options at least once a week. Our data shows that Instacart had a strong month in August with 34.4% of surveyed grocery shoppers reporting using the service in the previous 30 days.

A flurry of announcements from Instacart over the past month shows that the shopping service is making a slew of strategic acquisitions and securing new investment ahead of an initial public offering (IPO) rumored to happen before the end of 2022. of Instacart users reportedly oscillates in the range of 10 million consumers. It is integrated with approximately 350,000 locations.

Used in chains from Walmart to Lowe’s to Target and more focused on groceries, Instacart’s next crops for competitors tend not to be remote shopping and delivery services like Instacart’s model, but carts powered by artificial intelligence ( IA) for in-store shoppers who want to find items more easily and check out more seamlessly.

In other words, Instacart’s crop of competitors is empowering in-store shoppers with personal shopper AI to mitigate the effect of its current dominance in this retail tech quadrant.

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