The grocery cart had humble beginnings.
In 1936, Sylvan Goldman and a mechanic named Fred Young invented the first commercial grocery cart for Goldman’s Piggly Wiggly stores. The cart was not an immediate hit. Women complained it was another version of a baby stroller, and that’s the last thing they wanted to push while shopping for groceries. A few adjustments later — a guerilla marketing program that used models to push carts around the stores — turned the tide for the inventors.
By the 1940s, shopping carts became so popular that new grocery stores were being built with wider aisles to accommodate them.
But among innovations that seem to have not evolved at the pace of other creations, the grocery cart might just be the most used on a daily basis — until recently.
There is now a movement in the grocery industry to replace the traditional carts with digitized smart carts, but like the first, it’s probably going to take some consumer convincing.
The market is now being tested by Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN Dash Carts, Kroger Co.’s KR KroGo carts, Foodstuffs’ SmartCarts in New Zealand and Empire Co. Ltd.’s EMLAF Sobeys Smart Cart in Canada. Albertsons Cos. Inc. ACI has just begun testing Seattle startup Veeve carts.
The new carts are meant to be more convenient for shoppers, who, in some cases, can skip the checkout line. Stores using the technology in the carts can better track consumer behavior and, in turn, can lay out stores more efficiently and gain insights into buying decisions.
Tel Aviv, Israel-based A2Z Smart Technologies Corp. AZ AZ, which has smart carts used by several grocery chains in the country, is now reaching out to Asia.
The company’s newest carts are being introduced in Singapore’s largest grocery chain, NTUC FairPrice Cooperative. Integrated with its FairPrice ecosystem, A2Z's Cust2Mate smart carts will provide a seamless in-store digital shopping experience, direct access to in-store promotions, efficient management of inventory and the opportunity for shoppers to skip checkout lines, says the company.
"With a rich heritage of technology innovation, FairPrice has over 230 locations throughout the country with a variety of different stores, including FairPrice supermarkets, FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xtra, FairPrice Xpress and Cheers convenience stores. This agreement provides Cust2Mate with an excellent opportunity to expand our presence and gain exposure in the frictionless retail market in Asia,” Cust2Mate CEO Rafael Yam said.
A2Z promotes its Cust2Mate carts as the first proven-in-use mobile self-checkout (SCO) shopping cart featuring user-friendly smart algorithms, a touch screen and a computer-vision system. Cust2Mate automatically scans purchased products and enables in-cart payment so customers can shop and go, bypassing long cashier checkout lines. The Cust2Mate technology also provides shelf heatmaps for targeted advertising, direct marketing and special promotions.
A2Z’s first Cust2Mate Smart Carts will arrive at a new luxury FairPrice by mid-July and will be available on a limited basis beginning in August and available for all shoppers starting in September.
For more information about A2Z Smart Technologies Corp., visit www.A2ZaS.com.
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