Schnucks Taps Instacart’s Smart Carts as Self-Service Expands

Schnucks Instacart smart cart

As grocers look to meet consumers’ demand for self-service options — and cut their labor costs in the process — Schnucks is gearing up to deploy Instacart’s latest model of smart carts.

On Wednesday (July 19), the grocery aggregator announced that Schnuck Markets, Inc., which spans 115 stores across four Midwestern states, will roll out Instacart’s Caper Carts this year, beginning at a handful of locations in St. Louis in the fall with the intention of adding more in the following months.

“We’re proud to deepen our partnership with Instacart and further bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping for Schnucks customers,” Schnucks Senior Director of Digital Experience Chace MacMullan said in a statement. “We believe the future of grocery will lean heavily into personalization — whether it’s achieved through in-store smart carts or by providing the best possible e-commerce experience for our customers.”

The deployment will include both carts that automatically recognize items and a “Lite” model, for which consumers scan their purchases themselves. Additionally, the carts’ software integrates with Schnucks’ loyalty programs, such that consumers can view and redeem offers as they move through the store.

Instacart, has been expanding its smart cart presence across retailers. The aggregator announced last month that two Wakefern-owned grocers — a ShopRite location and a Fairway Market store — are implementing the technology.

Certainly, there is a demand for self-checkout technologies. Data cited in the February edition of PYMNTS’ Retail Tracker® series, “Innovating the Retail Checkout Experience,” created in collaboration with LS Retail, reveal that 60% of retail customers prefer self-checkout to interacting with a cashier. Additionally, the same study noted that 85% of retail customers say self-checkout is faster than waiting for a cashier.

Moreover, merchants believe that self-checkout capabilities are essential for retaining consumer loyalty, according to findings from PYMNTS’ study “Big Retail’s Innovation Mandate: Convenience and Personalization,” created in collaboration with ACI Worldwide, which drew from a survey of 300 retailers across the United States and the United Kingdom.

The results revealed that 50% of general retailers and 60% of grocers think consumers would be very or extremely likely to switch merchants if not offered self-service kiosks. Plus, 37% of general retailers and 40% of grocers said the same of the ability to scan products and pay without standing in line.

Additionally, smart carts may be able not only to meet consumers demand and cut down grocers’ labor costs but also to drive higher basket sizes. In an interview with PYMNTS last month,  Guy Mordoch, CEO of A2Z Smart Technologies Corp.’s flagship smart cart platform, Cust2Mate, noted that the company sees a 30% increase in average basket size when shoppers use smart carts over regular shopping carts.

“We see that about 60% of the cart users today are returning shoppers,” Mordoch added. “I think what has surprised me the most is that, today, we offer the cart with very basic capabilities. We don’t have all the enhanced AI capabilities. We don’t have all the applications running on the platform. We don’t have the retail media stuff running yet.”