Grocery Carts of the Future: Smart-Cart Start-Up Brings New Tech to Albertson’s Retail Stores

In a shocking twist, shopping carts have become sentient self-shopping carts (well, almost.) A team of former senior Amazon engineers formed Veeve, an inventive smart-cart tech-start up. The Seattle-based company has developed an innovative, Wi-Fi enabled, contactless shopping cart technology that uses AI, cameras, and sensors to “check-out” any items that the consumer selects and placed into the shopping cart. By greatly reducing time spent in the checkout lanes, even with “self-checkout” options, presumably customers will have faster and more productive shopping excursions.

Veeve has garnered the attention of Albertson’s, a grocery retailer with over 2,200 stores in the US. The carts are about $5,000 to $10,000 each. Veeve carts are being utilized in response to increased consumer demand as stores bounce back from in-store pandemic lull. Retail stores have been facing staffing shortages and while few retailers have turned to fully autonomous store models, the Veeve smart carts will not be replacing staff anytime soon. Albertson’s Chief Customer and Digital Officer Chris Rupp, shared in a statement, “For many shoppers, a great in-store experience rests heavily on interactions and support from our incredible in-store teams. Customer feedback and preferences will be essential in determining the future investments, including the expansion of smart carts and other tech-driven offerings.”

Convincing customers to use the smart carts may continue to be challenging, but Veeve CEO Shariq Siddiqui remains confident that the carts will not only alleviate staffing issues but also allow cashiers to better assist customers and take on additional roles in the stores. Siddiqui shares his thoughts on how the technology can revolutionize the industry, “Veeve carts can increase the basket size to be bigger, if not more valuable than the cash register. Usage has been high, which is all retailers care about. If customers use it the first time, they will come back.”

Individual Veeve cart transactions ring up to about $200 on average. Veeve carts are loaded with helpful features, such as turn-by-turn directions for product locations in-store, aisle aware recommendations and personalized product suggestions as the customer is actively shopping with an ability to clip digital coupons. Customers will also have access to previous shopping trips, by using a log-in phone number to retrieve shopping history. Store employees have access to the carts, with visual audit capabilities to alleviate shrink reduction. Also, the smart carts have rechargeable, swappable batteries to keep carts running all day and have small computers to track purchases and read grocery barcodes for easy shopping. Lastly, the Veeve carts can also measure produce and grocery items by weight, calculating programmed price per pound on assorted items.

So far, Veeve carts have been rolled out in several Albertson’s stores in Idaho and California, with the goals to implement Veeve carts at dozens of store locations through the expanded partnership.