Let’s Meet! March Madness Road Trip, NYC March 11-17

Smart Shopping Cart Technology Benefits of the Retail Revolution

Imagine walking into a supermarket, placing items in a shopping cart, and walking out. No wasting time lining up at the cashier’s. That’s the convenience made possible by smart shopping cart technology.

While smart carts technology is relatively new, stores worldwide have successfully piloted it. So far, the results are extremely promising, and it’s clear that smart carts are the future of the retail industry.

This article will discuss smart shopping carts and AI checkout systems. We’ll define them and then dive into their features and benefits.


What Are Smart Shopping Carts?

We’re used to “stupid” shopping carts. They don’t do anything but hold your shopping.

In contrast, smart shopping carts have sensors like cameras, weight scales, and barcode scanners that allow them to detect the items you pick. They also have touch screens to display information like prices and enable interactions like keying in your passcode when paying.

Not all smart shopping carts look the same — they come with different designs. Some look like traditional shopping carts but with modifications, while others have an entirely unique design.

Additionally, different carts have different features.

All smart shopping carts have scanning mechanisms to detect the items you pick, but not all have features like integration with Alexa, the digital assistant. The features you get access to depend on the cart’s manufacturer.

Let’s take a detailed look at everything smart shopping carts can do.

The Capabilities of Smart Shopping Carts

Walking into the supermarket and walking out with your shopping without interacting with anyone doesn’t just happen. Smart shopping carts have dozens of features to make the shopping experience as smooth and convenient as possible.

We don’t integrate with Alexa. Why is this so important here?

You can talk about product recognition which is done even without scanning the barcode, only by cameras recognizing the product.

Let's Talk

1. They Can Help You Locate Products in the Supermarket

Modern-day supermarkets are often sprawling complexes with dozens of aisles and sometimes multiple floors.

Locating a product in such a place can be a daunting task, especially if it’s a store you don’t frequently visit. The in-store directions help, but it can still feel like exploring a maze, and you may need to consult a store agent.

Enter smart shopping cart technology, and things become considerably easier.

Automated shopping carts like Amazon’s Dash Cart allow you to connect to Alexa and load your shopping list. The cart then directs you to the items on your list, meaning you don’t have to wander around in a supermarket like you’re lost.


2. They Can Recommend Products and Discounts

Normally, the only way to know about a discount while in a supermarket is to walk past a discount sign. While “sale” signs are often in bright colors and easy to spot, they can be easy to miss in a large supermarket.

Smart shopping carts give you on-screen alerts about discounts as you walk through a store. If you’re interested in a discount, you simply follow the on-screen directions to the product.

Additionally, in most supermarkets, when you sign in to the automated shopping cart, your customer data is imported, allowing the cart to recommend products based on purchases you’ve made in the past.

This can be helpful in case there are items you had mistakenly left off your shopping list. 

Also, when you buy a product, the cart can recommend complementary products, making the shopping experience as wholesome as it is on e-commerce sites like Amazon. 


3. They Automatically Detect the Items You Pick and Display a Running Subtotal of the Cost

In traditional supermarket shopping, you carry the items to the checkout station, and the cashier scans them.

With automated shopping carts, the scanning happens as you place items in the cart. The cart detects the item and displays it on the screen along with information like the price.

An even cooler feature of smart shopping cart technology is that it adds up the cost and displays it on-screen as you pick more items. This way, it’s easier to track your purchases and stay within your budget.

Smart cart technology uses a combination of the following ways to detect items:

  • Scanning the barcode on the item.
  • Using high-resolution cameras and artificial intelligence to identify the item.
  • Weighing the item.

It’s easy to scan tagged items with a barcode scanner.

For items like fresh produce, you’ll have to use the screen and the weighing scale to price the item. If you’re buying an apple, you’ll access a menu showing the fresh produce on offer and select the apple. You’ll then place the apple(s) you want to buy on the weighing scale, which will measure and price the apple.

And if you have second thoughts about a product and decide not to buy it, you simply pick it out of the cart. It will sense that you’ve removed the product and subtract its price from the running subtotal.


4. They Allow You to Pay for Purchases and Walk Out Without Waiting in Line

After picking all the items you want, an automated shopping cart allows you to pay without lining up at the cashier’s.

These carts typically have a slot that lets you scan your card and pay for the items. You can input the necessary financial details through the touch-screen display on the cart.

Once the transaction goes through, you can walk out of the supermarket through a dedicated self-checkout lane.

In most stores, you’re not allowed to walk out with the cart. You’ll have gotten some shopping bags with the cart, and you can carry your shopping out in them.


The Benefits of Smart Shopping Carts

The above features of smart carts come with a range of benefits.


They Save You Time

Automated shopping carts significantly reduce the time you spend shopping. They save time by:

  • Easily integrating with your shopping list and automatically checking off items as you pick them.
  • Helping you quickly navigate the store and easily locate the items you want.
  • Eliminating the need to line up during checkout.
  • Reducing the time it takes to scan items. The scanning happens automatically as you place items in the cart.


They Reduce the Hassle of Shopping

If you’re buying many items, shopping can be a tiresome and lengthy experience. The hassle starts with struggling to find things and figuring out which items have discounts.

But waiting in line during checkout can be equally frustrating. Some stores usually have unmanned checkout stations, making the lines at the manned stations unnecessarily long.

With automated shopping carts, the time you spend at the store is only dependent on your actions, not on the length of the checkout lines or the cashier’s efficiency.


You Don’t Have to Interact With People Unless You Want To

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the value of contactless transactions, especially for our health. With automated shopping carts, you can shop without interacting with a single person.

In the past, it used to be mandatory to interact with store employees, whether to ask them for directions to a product or during checkout. But with this revolutionary technology, the only time you’d interact with an employee is if you need help deciding which color looks best on you.


The Shopping Experience Is More Personalized and Convenient

Smart shopping carts enable personalized recommendations based on data like purchase history. Additionally, they give you real-time data about discounts and promotions as you move through the store.

This is in addition to conveniences that may seem little but that collectively make a big difference, including:

  • The ability to track your expenditure as you shop.
  • Access to a pre-prepared digital shopping list.
  • The automatic checking off of items in the shopping list.
  • The ability to easily find the location of any product in the supermarket.


They Empower You to Make More Informed Purchase Decisions

One of the best things about shopping on Amazon is having a wealth of information at your fingertips, empowering you to buy the best product.

The most advanced retail checkout systems bring this information to the physical retail store by allowing you to:

  • Instantly access relevant information about a product, including its description, ingredients, and country of origin.
  • Access online reviews about a product to learn about the experience other customers had with it.
  • Compare the prices of related products, along with other details like reviews, to make an informed decision about which to settle for.


The Takeaway

The AI-driven autonomous checkout is a revolutionary technology bringing a new level of convenience to in-store shopping.

Automated shopping carts come with many useful features, from scanners that automatically detect items to card slots that allow customers to pay without waiting in the cashier’s line.

Such features come with multiple benefits, including added convenience, better personalization, and the ability to make more informed purchase decisions.

Flow’s AI-based Machine Vision optimizes the store’s operations and sales while enabling self-checkout with drastically reduced friction, shrinkage and intervention. Contact us today or book a demo

Skip to content