The Instacart Technology That Could Change Grocery Shopping Forever

The modern-day grocery store has come a long way from the simple brick-and-mortar grocers of yesteryear. While someone in the 1940s could still purchase milk, eggs, and butter from their local grocery store just as someone in 2022 could buy those same items from their local Walmart, technological advances have made it so that one can order their groceries without even having to leave their home. In fact, we've come so far that even the first self-checkout machines introduced in 1987 (via The Oklahoman) don't seem all that impressive to modern shoppers today.

Take Instacart, for example. For those who may not have heard of Instacart, it's an online grocery shopping application founded in 2012, where customers could order their groceries through the app and have them delivered to their houses. According to Business of Apps, over 9.6 million customers used Instacart in 2020. Although this was mainly due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it shows that the idea of grocery shopping from the comfort of your living room is an idea that appeals to many people.

But what if we told you that you could allow an actual computer to pick your food out for you? What if all you had to do was press a few buttons on a screen and you'd have your own remote-controlled grocery cart picking your food up for you? What if you could combine a cash register, scale, and grocery organizer all into one machine?

That is the Instacart Caper Cart.

How does Caper Cart work?

"Caper is reimagining the in-store shopping journey by developing cutting-edge AI-powered shopping carts and automated checkout counters that bring together online and offline shopping to create a completely new in-store shopping experience for customers."

These bold words are from Instacart's announcement of its acquisition of Caper AI, a company that manufactures smart carts and checkout systems. With Caper Cart, customers will be able to use a touchscreen on the rear of the cart to not only build an online grocery order or transfer a list from their Instacart account to the grocery cart but also view the weight of each item (such as fresh produce) and even check out using the touchscreen. Customers can also search for a certain product on the touchscreen and, should the store have it, the cart will direct them to the exact location that the product is. In this way, customers can shop, monitor their grocery order, and check out, all from their cart.

According to The Takeout, Caper Cart technology is available in select Kroger stores, but the newly developed carts that include Instacart's technology are on the way, alongside the development of a Connected Store powered by Instacart technology in California. 

The idea of a cashierless store is impressive, but other similar models have been around for some time. Amazon Go's grocery store and technological developments in Whole Foods showcase the possibility of a future where the only humans in grocery stores are the shoppers themselves.