Did you know that grocers are using artificial intelligence to make shopping faster, easier and far more trackable? The new technology that they are using will one day, (and that is not too far away) allow you to put your shopping in your cart, and go straight to your car, load up and head home with no human contact and without having to wait in the checkout line or tap your debit or credit card. Sound unbelievable? well it is already in place and depending on how you look at what is really happening here you might see it as a good thing or a bad thing.
The new smart carts being rolled out have their own scanner so that customers can scan the items with barcodes before putting them into the cart. If items do not have a barcode the cart's sensors will weigh them. In the future we can expect the carts to have cameras, artificial intelligence and machine learning to recognize items placed into them without the use of a barcode. This invisible checkout system has been used in Asia for several years and it is now getting more and more available in North America. The Amazon Go Grocery outlet opened in Seattle this year and at some Walmart urban super centre locations where customers can use the My Walmart app to scan products as they shop, bypassing checkout lines. They pay via smartphone using a credit card already registered with the store and then exit through Fast Lane checkouts.
For the consumer this is an ideal way to shop, they have control over the time they spend shopping and can choose their own produce, still impulse buy, monitor their grocery purchases to stay within their budget, avoid line-ups, and avoid having to pay (at least until their credit card statement arrives).
Behind the scenes the advantages for the grocer is that they can gather data about shoppers and their habits. They are already doing this when you use your "Save on More" or equivalent card they can see what you buy and tailor their advertising emails to you to suggest discounts on items that you normally buy. Grocery stores generate around $7 billion a month in sales and this is still growing.
It is hoped that this automation will not mean that many people will lose their jobs, but instead will be moved to the sales floor to interact more with customers and answer questions about products, however some job losses will be inevitable.
From an article by Charlene Rooke