Will Sobeys’ ‘intelligent’ shopping cart lead to job cuts?

Sobeys is pilot-testing a high-tech shopping cart that allows shoppers to skip the checkout line. But as Richard Southern reports, the grocery store chain insists the ‘smart cart’ isn’t intended to replace cashiers.

By Richard Southern and Mike Visser

Sobeys is pilot-testing a high-tech shopping cart that allows shoppers to skip the checkout line, but the grocery chain insists the ‘intelligent’ cart isn’t intended to replace cashiers.

“What we’re seeing so far is this allows our employees to be more on the floor, to be able to engage with our customers,” explained Mathieu Lacoursiere, Vice President of Retail Support at Sobeys Inc.

“This is actually freeing up some people to be able to engage with our customers and help them with their grocery shopping.”

The smart cart is the first of its kind in Canada. It has a built-in scanner and computer that keeps track of every item placed in the cart. A scale is also included, allowing shoppers to weigh their own vegetables and produce.

A digital screen provides a running tally of the bill, including tax. That same screen can also prompt shoppers to check out similar items throughout the store.

“Maybe I scan spaghetti. The cart can tell me, hey, there’s a particular sale on spaghetti sauce down the way,” said Ahmed Beshry, co-founder of Caper, the technology used in the smart carts.

The cart is also equipped with three cameras capable of capturing 120 images per second. As technology improves, the cart will eventually be able to automatically detect what’s being placed in it, meaning shoppers will no longer need to scan their items.

Sobeys says other features are also on the way, including the ability to upload your shopping list, allowing the cart to direct you to a specific aisle in the grocery store.

Lacoursiere declined to reveal how much each cart costs, but said the technology is an ongoing investment.

“We want to continue investing in this cart to make it a seamless customer experience.”

The pilot project is running at Sobeys’ Glen Abbey location in Oakville. If the testing goes smoothly, the company says the carts could eventually be rolled out across the country.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today