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09/19/2022

Instacart rolls out Connected Stores technology

Instacart's Connected Stores consists of six new Instacart Platform offerings: Caper Cart, Scan & Pay, Lists, Carrot Tags, FoodStorm Department Orders and Out of Stock Insights.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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instacart caper cart

Instacart is unveiling Connected Stores, a bundle of six new Instacart Platform technologies that layer on top of existing offerings, to help grocers bring together the best of online ordering and in-store shopping for consumers.

Connected Stores create 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, the company said. 

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 e-commerce solutions, including Storefront Pro.

[Read more: Instacart, Dollar Tree expand partnership]

Grocers of all sizes across the United States and Canada already have piloted these technologies and others, including Wakefern, Schnucks and Joseph's Classic Market, which will soon be deploying elements of Connected Stores.

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instacart scan and pay

"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 of 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."

[Read more: Walgreens partners with Instacart for same-day delivery]

"In today's competitive environment, grocers need a technology partner that can help them digitally transform in ways that reflect and augment their unique identities while delighting customers," said Jordan Speer, research director, product sourcing, fulfillment and sustainability at IDC. "Omnichannel offerings such as Instacart's modular Connected Stores create opportunities for grocers of all sizes to innovate in stores and offer seamless experiences across online and in-store." Here are details on the technologies:

  • The new Caper Cart: These AI-powered smart carts are equipped with scales, sensors, touchscreens and computer vision that powers Instacart's 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% 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.
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instacart lists

In addition, Instacart and Good Food Holdings are partnering to build the first-ever Connected Store at their Bristol Farms location in Irvine, Calif. 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."

[Read more: Stop & Shop, Instacart partner on 30-minute delivery service

"As a small family-owned Italian specialty market, it's important that we have the right infrastructure in place to provide a seamless shopping experience and grow our catering business," said John Acierno, owner at Joseph's Classic Market. "Previously, we had to physically print out production logs to align and manage orders across departments which was a time-consuming and inefficient process. Now with Instacart and FoodStorm's technology powering Department Orders, we can be more collaborative as a team and better serve our customers by unlocking an easier way for people to order their favorite deli sandwiches."

"Technology is completely transforming the grocery industry, and working with Instacart is helping us unlock and adapt innovative solutions that will shape the in-store experience for our customers," said Cheryl Williams, chief information officer at Wakefern. "We're excited to introduce Instacart's newest Caper Cart in our stores and provide customers with a more personalized and seamless approach to the shopping and checkout experience."

"With Instacart's Carrot Tags technology, we're able to seamlessly integrate electronic shelf labels and get them directly onto our shelves, helping Instacart shoppers track down hard-to-find products and making store navigation easier — allowing them to deliver excellent customer service," said Bob Hardester, chief information and supply chain officer at Schnucks. "We know successful online grocery requires blending technology and the human touch, and our partnership with Instacart helps ensure we're meeting customer needs at all times while driving inspiration across our stores and online channels.

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