Instacart Acquires Smart Cart Creator Caper AI to Power Omnichannel Tech for Grocery Store Customers

Caper AI

With the major restaurant delivery services making plays for Instacart’s customers, Instacart is stepping up its efforts to meet grocers’ digital needs. The online grocery platform announced on Tuesday (Oct. 19) that it is acquiring Caper AI, a company that creates smart carts for checkout-free shopping and computer vision checkout counters for more frictionless self-service.

With this acquisition, Instacart aims to make these smart solutions available to its grocery customers, with an eye toward integrating the technology into the Instacart app and website as well as its white-label product. Additionally, the online grocery platform intends to make these solutions available to its in-store pickers, enabling more efficient order fulfillment.

“As we look ahead, we’re focused on creating even more ways for retailers to develop unified commerce offerings that help address consumer needs across both online and in-store shopping,” Fidji Simo, Instacart’s CEO, said in a statement. “We’ll continue to deepen our investment in our suite of enterprise technology services, unlocking new solutions that help power the comprehensive eCommerce platforms of retailers across North America.”

The news comes 12 days after Instacart announced it is acquiring catering software company FoodStorm, with an eye toward offering grocers the ability to digitize their catering businesses.

Related news: Instacart Acquires Catering Software Company in Push to Compete With Restaurant Aggregators

Throughout 2021, major restaurant aggregators have been expanding beyond the category into grocery to grow their use cases. In June, DoorDash announced a partnership with grocery giant Albertsons Companies, and then the following month, Uber Eats shared that it was doubling its grocery presence, and Grubhub parent Just Eat stated its intentions to roll out grocery delivery in all the markets in which it operates.

Read more: Uber Eats Devours Rideshare Business as Company Doubles up on Groceries

The online grocery market opportunity is sizable. Research from PYMNTS’ study, What Consumers Expect From Their Grocery Shopping Experiences, created in collaboration with ACI Worldwide, finds that of the more than 2,300 U.S. adults surveyed, 34% are shopping for groceries online. Additionally, 76% of U.S. consumers who are shopping for groceries online are doing so because it is easier and more convenient, and 57% are doing so because it is faster to purchase online.

See also: Digital Features Can Help Grocers Win Over 43% of Shoppers

Smart carts such as those created by Caper AI provide a valuable opportunity for Instacart to gain data about how consumers shop. Raz Golan, CEO and co-founder of grocery store technology company Shopic, told PYMNTS in an interview that smart carts can gather information about which areas of the store are frequently visited by shoppers and which are being overlooked, as well as which items are being purchased and which are being picked up but ultimately placed back on shelves, among other shopping behaviors.

“This is what the next generation of the in-store journey should look like,” Golan said. “All these data points are ones that we just couldn’t measure very well until today, and it opens up a whole new world of data analytics.”

Related news: Smart Carts Bring Data Analytics Into Grocery Aisles

This data-gathering opportunity could have negative implications for the online grocery platform’s grocery customers. Already, grocers are losing loyalty to third-party marketplaces, and as Instacart gets smarter about how to target consumers’ shopping habits, grocers’ disadvantages may increase.