New Zealand supermarket cooperative Foodstuffs will be the first in the world to trial new artificial intelligence (AI) technology that brings the checkout to the trolley.
The system is being developed by Auckland-based company IMAGR, which announced today that it is launching its Smartcart at Four Square in Ellerslie in coming months.
Smartcart recognises products as soon as they are placed in a shopping cart – eliminating the need for barcode scanning, checkouts and queueing.
To activate Smartcart, shoppers download an app and link a payment method to their account. In-store, they pair their smartphone with the shopping cart, and as they add products the items appear on their phone’s virtual basket.
Foodstuffs North Island CIO Peter Muggleston said brick and mortar retailers must embrace AI technologies to enhance consumer experiences and ensure they lead their field.
“This technology will give consumers more options, reduced wait times and variety during their store visits, giving our staff more time to offer their advice and help in other ways,” Muggleston said.
Founder William Chomley started conceptualising Smartcart two years ago to improve convenience and help eliminate the frustration that comes with queuing at the checkout.
IMAGR has now grown to a team of 12, with artificial intelligence (AI) specialists from around the world working at its Auckland headquarters.
“We’re delighted Foodstuffs is the first retailer in the world that we’re partnering with to make this happen. This is the first significant step in enhancing the way we do our shopping here in New Zealand and abroad,” Chomley said.
The move comes as retailers around the globe look for ways to streamline shopping, including the recent launch of the Amazon Go retail outlet in Seattle.
Yesterday, analyst firm Gartner said nearly half of CIOs worldwide were considering deploying AI. However, only four per cent had already made meaningful deployments.
Chomley said personalisation and convenience are becoming industry norms online and off.
"We’re focused on creating a hyper-personalised in-store experience that also includes an ‘alternative’ method for checking out."
Smartcart applies machine learning to identify the patterns in a customer’s behaviour and make suggestions for recipes as well as guiding users around the store based on their product choices.
It can also help with inventory management, cost reduction and analytics and IMAGR is also working on ways to deliver tailored promotions to customers as they shop.
In November, IMAGR received a significant investment from Sage Technologies Ltd to progress its solution towards the beta testing phase.
IMAGR is also in talks with retailers in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and America, aiming for adoption by three of the world’s leading retailers by 2022.