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New Instacart tech unifies grocery shoppers' online, in-store experiences

Instacart unveiled Connected Stores, a bundle of six new Instacart Platform technologies that layer on top of existing offerings, helping grocers bring together the best of online ordering and in-store shopping for consumers. Connected Stores creates a unified, personalized experience for customers by enabling them to move seamlessly between a retailer’s app or website and its physical, in-store experience. Together, Instacart and Good Food Holdings will open the first Instacart Platform-powered Connected Store at Bristol Farms in Irvine, CA.

As part of Connected Stores, Instacart is announcing six new Instacart Platform offerings: the new Caper Cart, Scan & Pay, Lists, Carrot Tags, FoodStorm Department Orders and Out of Stock Insights — modular technologies that help retailers connect online and in-store experiences. These new technologies will connect directly with Instacart’s ecommerce solutions, including Storefront Pro. Grocers of all sizes across the U.S. and Canada have already piloted these technologies and others, including Wakefern Food Corp., Schnucks and Joseph’s Classic Market, will soon be deploying elements of Connected Stores.

“We believe the future of grocery won’t be about choosing between shopping online and in-store — consumers are going to do both,” said Fidji Simo, CEO at Instacart. “The launch of Connected Stores is another exciting step for Instacart as we partner with retailers to help invent the future of grocery. Through these technologies, we can now offer consumers the best of online shopping inside physical stores, and vice-versa. Ultimately, we believe that the more customers connect with grocers across both online and in-store experiences, the more retailers’ businesses will grow.”

Six New Instacart Platform Technologies Powering Connected Stores:

The new Caper Cart: These AI-powered smart carts are equipped with scales, sensors, touchscreens, and computer vision that powers our proprietary scanless technology, so that customers can navigate the store and check themselves out without manually scanning items. The new model of the Caper Cart is slimmer and lighter than the previous version, with 65 percent more capacity. The new Caper Cart features stacked charging, allowing grocers to charge batches of carts at once and eliminating the need to charge carts individually or swap out batteries.

Scan & Pay: Scan & Pay allows customers to scan items as they shop and pay for them from their mobile phones so they can skip checkout lines. It can also link the items you buy in store to customers’ online shopping accounts, making it easy to buy them again. For EBT SNAP users, Scan & Pay easily identifies EBT SNAP-eligible products as soon as they are scanned, making it easier to identify approved products.

Lists: With Lists, customers can sync their shopping lists from the Instacart App or a grocer’s Instacart-powered app or website directly to a Caper Cart by scanning a QR code. The Caper Cart helps customers locate the items they are shopping for and automatically checks them off their list as they are added to the cart.

Carrot Tags: With Carrot Tags, retailers can connect electronic shelf labels to Instacart Platform to add functionality such as pick-to-light capabilities, which allow customers, associates, or Instacart shoppers to select an item on their phone and flash a light on its corresponding shelf tag, making it easier to find the products they’re looking for. Carrot Tags also help retailers display key information — like whether a specific product is gluten-free, organic, kosher, or EBT SNAP eligible — driving inspiration and product discovery in stores. Carrot Tags supports an ecosystem of electronic shelf label partners, including SES-imagotag + VUSION.

FoodStorm Department Orders: FoodStorm’s order management system helps retailers manage orders for items such as baked goods, hot items, and deli sandwiches while customers are shopping. The new Department Orders enables different prepared foods departments within a store to collaborate so that they can have customers’ orders ready at just the right time.

Out of Stock Insights: Out of Stock Insights is an API that helps retailers provide automatic, real-time alerts to associates when items are running low or out of stock. For retailers, this can result in fewer missed sales opportunities; for customers, it increases the chances they can find exactly what they are looking for.

Partnering with Good Food Holdings to build a Connected Store
In addition, Instacart and Good Food Holdings are partnering to build the first-ever Connected Store at their Bristol Farms location in Irvine. Leveraging its Storefront Pro e-commerce solution, Instacart will power Bristol Farms’ online store and connect it to their physical store. All six elements of Connected Stores will come together to deliver a seamless experience for customers at this store, which will open in the coming months.

“At Good Food Holdings, we’re proud to provide our customers with a personalized shopping experience — whether they’re opting to build their baskets online or joining us in-store. As customers have adopted delivery and pickup over the past year, we’ve found it increasingly important to evolve our business with omnichannel customers at the forefront,” said Neil Stern, CEO at Good Food Holdings. “As we look to the next decade of grocery, we want to make sure that we’re providing an inspirational shopping trip for our customers — and this starts by building a Connected Store. In partnership with Instacart, we’re excited to introduce multiple ways to checkout with Caper Cart and Scan & Pay, while driving inspiration through Lists and Carrot Tags. Instacart is an innovator in grocery technology, and we’re thrilled to be their partner and debut the first-ever Connected Store at Bristol Farms this year.”

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