How Smart Shopping Carts Can Impact Retailers Throughout the U.S.

As more and more shifts are being made towards autonomous shopping, many retailers are finding ways to fight back against what they referred to as the Amazon boogie-man. With Caper, the company responsible for putting the Smart Shopping Carts on the market — they want to eliminate checkout lines altogether, which could be done as easy as replacing older shopping carts with the new Smart Shopping Carts.

The new carts are designed to eliminate checkout lines due to this new technology. The new shopping carts would contain a built-in barcode scanner along with a credit card swiper. However, it’s putting the final touches on the technology that would allow shoppers automatically scan items by just dropping them into their shopping carts. The leading technology responsible for this process is two key features: the image recognition cameras containing three cameras and a weight sensor — both of which would make a significant difference in the check-out process.

According to Caper, there’s already been an increase in the number of items purchased by shoppers by roughly 18% each time they visit a retailer equipped with their new Smart Shopping Carts.

The autonomous checkout system with the use of Capers smart carts has created a wonderful shopping experience for customers, and in Capers own words “It makes shopping magic.”

Capers has recently revealed that it has raised $2.15 million in seed money with the assistance of First-Round Capital and a total raise of $3 million. Other angel investors joined them in their efforts such as Max Mullen, Co-Founder of Instacart, Nick Taranto, Co-Founder of Plated, Jenny Feiss, the Co-Founder of Jet’s Jetblack Shopping Concierge and Y Contributor.

Other funders that joined in with Caper’s fundraising efforts consist of Sidekick Ventures, Coquito Ventures, the Hardware Club, Redo Ventures, FundersClub, and Precursor Venture.

Thanks to the support of Caper’s investors, they now have a presence in retailers located in the New York City area. Caper also has plans to use part of the funding for expansion purposes, and similar to the Smart Shopping Carts wants to also develop Smart Shopping Baskets designed primarily for smaller retail stores.

Why Shopping Carts?

Caper’s Co-Founder and CEO, Lindon Gao is adamant about his philosophy concerning advancement. He believes that the shopping experience that most customers have today is very similar to the one they had 100 years ago — walking into a grocery store then standing in line to pay for groceries. He also adds that nothing has really changed since then.

Gao compared the advancement associated with ordering and paying for a cab or booking a hotel with a cell phone, with the need for advancements in the grocery stores. His thoughts are, if a cellular phone can be used to make a payment for the items mentioned above, then shoppers should be able to leave the store without having to stand in a line to pay for their groceries. Thankfully many investment Partners feel the same way, evidenced by putting up additional funding dollars to support the process.

Competitors Reaction to Autonomous Retail

Caper is not the only one who has taken notice of the need for an autonomous retail system, but many of its competitors have also taken notice as well. In fact, there are others who are attempting to maintain their competitiveness by trying to keep up with Amazon Go, who continues to expand while maintaining cashless retail stores.

Other competitors such as Standard Cognition who recently received $50 million in funding, former CTO of Pandora, Will Glaser’s Grabango, and smaller startups such as Inokyo and Zippin have all put systems in place to build a shelf based and ceiling camera systems to remain competitive with the giant Amazon Go.

As for Caper, their plug-and-play autonomous shopping cart based system may be able to leap Right over its competitors if their shopping carts are easier for other retailers to set up.

Key Features of the Autonomous Shopping Cart

One of the key features of Capers autonomous shopping cart is it’s a combination of image recognition and the weight sensor used to identify items placed in the shopping cart without the use of scanning them with a barcode.

The Evolution of the Smart Cart System

According to Gao, he believes retail is under innovated in a major way. Gao was exposed to QueueHop, a company responsible for the cashierless apparel security tags design to unlock when customers paid for their items.

Gao since gained a better understanding of how automation would have an impact on merchants operation flow and thus conducted a survey involving 150 merchants to determine what their primary needs were and what they really wanted. The answer? The automated shopping carts.

So primarily the Smart Shopping Cart was developed in response to a demand or a need — mainly to advance the retail marketplace based on the responses provided by the 150 merchants.

The smart carts were initially launched in the New York City area because the survey was initially conducted in New York City. It suggested that there would be a need in that general area that could be filled right away. And based on the initial launching of the cart in that geographical location, Gao was right.

The Cost Associated With Making the Smart Shopping Carts

In every business venture, there’s always a concern about cost and whether or not it will have a negative impact on gross profit margins. However, although the actual cost to make the carts have not been revealed by Caper, Gao did admit that they’re not too much more costly than producing the standard shopping carts. To that end, even if the smart carts did cost significantly more, think about the cost savings that will be made at the traditional checkout stands.

Retail stores purchase the carts outright, but then they must pay a subscription fee for the use of the technology and then have access to free upgrades on the hardware.

Additional Cost That Benefits Retailers

Some additional cost benefits that will be made to retailers consist of enhanced customer service. Since retail clerks will not be required to spend time at the cash register to check out shoppers, they can repurpose the cashiers’ labor by allowing them to assist shoppers while they are shopping. Not only will this process reduce the elimination of some jobs — at least initially — but it will also significantly in Hantz the customers shopping experience. It will also allow retailers to keep their shelves stocked and increase their revenues as shoppers are inclined to spend more when using the smart shopping carts.

How Caper Helps Retailers Stay Informed by Sharing Data

An additional benefit of using the Smart Shopping Carts is that the technology system allows Caper to share its data that has been collected by the carts. The data provides useful information such as the routes that customers take while shopping in the store, the shelves that shoppers tend to hover over the most and other data that can be useful for retailers with respect to designing the best floor layout plan.

How The Autonomous Shopping Carts Work

Several things are going on behind the scenes during the shopping process. One being, that whenever an item is scanned, the cart takes approximately 120 photos while weighing the items in an effort to train Capers machine vision algorithms. According to Gao, this process is similar to how Tesla is moving more towards self-driving.

Shoppers can scan their items’ barcodes in and pay for items right on the cart by using a credit card swipe or they can tap by using the Apple or Android Pay. After the payment takes place a receipt is emailed to the shopper. These features are available with the launching of V1 of Caper’s Shopping Carts.

The goal, however, is for the carts to be completely scanless. In fact, some of its pilot stores have already begun using this technology.

The cameras are located on some of the carts already employ image recognition capabilities that are matched with what’s referred to as a weight sensor. The weight sensor is designed to identify what’s been tossed in the shopping cart. This process allows shoppers to have more of a normal shopping experience. However, the flipside of that would be that the shoppers would have to pay for the items afterward, but then they could leave the store without having to stand in line.

What About Shoplifting Due to Malfunctions

Of course, there’s the question concerning shoplifting. Couldn’t shoplifting pose a greater risk that could easily take place with this process should one of the carts malfunction?. This issue has been thought out and has been addressed by integrating the Smart Shopping Carts with the retail store’s current security system. This system is designed to assist with detecting shoplifting when the carts are in use.

Is this process less of a risk than using the ceiling and shelf camera systems? According to Gao, the answer is no. The use of the Smart shopping cart system does create a larger risk than the ceiling and shelf camera system, but shoplifting has not been a major problem as of yet according to Gao.

Key Advantages of Using the Smart Carts

One of the most significant advantages is that retailers can experience when using the smart shopping carts as opposed to the shelf and ceiling cameras is that discount and other promotional items can be made available through the use of the shopping cart. Here’s how this can work. Once Shoppers please items in their shopping cart, a recommendation can be made based on rest recipes that are associated with the items to be purchased. For example, if a shopper tossed in the shop or toss potato chips in the cart, there would be an offer on guacamole along with where it is located in the store.

Although Caper has experienced some success after implementing the shopping carts, they still are faced with issues concerning the supply chain. To keep the smart Carts running smoothly, a lot of components are required by different manufacturers. This requires Capers to move quickly if they want to have the carts placed into other mainstream retailers.

Capers is continuously monitoring the impact the carts are having on both the shopper and the retailer and plans to continue to make modifications to the carts as needed to ensure they continue to meet the growing demand of both the shoppers and the retailers across the US.



The latest in business news and advice so you never lose interest.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Suit Up!

The latest in business news and advice so you never lose interest.