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Instacart acquires smart cart, checkout technology firm

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Instacart, the leading online grocery platform in North America, today announced its acquisition of Caper AI, a leading AI-powered shopping cart and checkout technology platform.

This acquisition expands Instacart’s comprehensive retailer enablement platform, which currently spans the Instacart marketplace, robust enterprise services that power the ecommerce solutions for many top grocers, fulfillment technology to support delivery and pickup capabilities, last-mile delivery, and much more.

With this acquisition, Instacart aims to help retailers unify the in-store and online shopping experience for customers, supporting their businesses no matter how customers choose to shop.

Caper is reimagining the in-store shopping journey by developing cutting-edge AI-powered shopping carts and automated checkout counters that bring together online and offline shopping to create a completely new in-store shopping experience for customers.

Caper’s powerful object recognition system lets customers place items into their cart such as fruits, vegetables, and other items without having to scan or weigh them, and check out right at the cart. The company also develops smart checkout counters that use cameras and a weight sensor to auto-detect items placed on its counter, creating an easier and faster express checkout flow for customers at grocery and convenience stores.

In addition to streamlining the in-store shopping and check out process, Caper helps create unique and more personalized shopping experiences. Caper’s carts feature touch-enabled screens that let customers navigate brick-and-mortar grocery store aisles more seamlessly.

The screens also make product suggestions based on what’s in a customer’s cart. Over time, Instacart expects to integrate Caper’s technology into the Instacart app and the ecommerce websites and apps of its retail partners, allowing customers to build online shopping lists and browse recipes ahead of time and check off their lists as they go.

And, for Instacart shoppers who shop on behalf of customers, they can also utilize the carts to find items more efficiently and bypass long checkout lines.

“Over the years, Instacart has continued to expand its retailer enablement services, helping brick-and-mortar grocers across North America move their businesses online, grow and meet the evolving needs of their customers. 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,” said Fidji Simo, Instacart’s CEO.

“That’s why we’re thrilled to welcome the Caper AI team to Instacart. We share the same goal of equipping retailers with new and innovative technologies that help them succeed in an increasingly competitive industry, while also providing customers with the best possible experience. We’re excited to bring Caper’s leading smart carts and smart checkout platform to more retailers around the world, as we all reimagine the future of grocery together.”

“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. Today’s acquisition of Caper comes on the heels of our recent FoodStorm acquisition, which offers order-ahead and catering technology for retailers so they can increase their sales and ensure more customers are turning to them for everyday meals,” Simo continued.

For retailers, Caper’s smart cart technology provides them with a plug-and-play solution, requiring little capital expenditure. Caper’s technology enables brick-and-mortar retailers of all sizes to quickly and easily deploy this technology in their stores, creating compelling experiences for customers and driving meaningful growth for their business by increasing average basket sizes relative to traditional shopping carts.

Caper’s smart carts are currently deployed at some of the leading North American retailers, including Instacart partners Kroger and Wakefern, as well as Sobeys in Canada. This is in addition to their smart checkout counters in convenience stores. Caper’s smart carts were the first carts in the U.S. approved by the federal government’s NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program), which certifies that it can accurately sell items that are priced by weight and measures, like produce and bulk items.

“I’m incredibly proud of the business we’ve built and the technological leap forward our products represent for the entire grocery industry. The powerful technology we’ve created is intuitive for customers, easy to deploy for retailers of all sizes, and creates a physical retail ecosystem that never existed before,” said Lindon Gao, Co-Founder and CEO of Caper AI.

“We share Instacart’s vision of enabling grocery retailers with new innovations that create step changes for their businesses, and we’re proud to now be joining forces with Instacart to develop even more solutions that help bring the online and offline together for retailers.”

“At Kroger, our goal is to connect customers to food – no matter how they want to shop or when they need it,” said Stephanie Jenkins, Kroger’s vice president of strategic partnerships.

“Kroger is proud to be leading the industry in the adoption of new innovative technologies, including Caper AI smart carts, as well as partnering with Instacart on other industry-leading innovations like Kroger Delivery Now. These offerings are advancing Kroger’s thriving seamless ecosystem and providing our customers with more ways to shop with us through strategic collaborations.”

“We’re excited for Instacart to join forces with Caper AI to help scale their technology and make it more accessible,” said Bob Hardester, Chief Information & Supply Chain Officer at Schnuck Markets Inc.

“Caper AI’s smart carts are the most technologically advanced carts out there. We believe the ability to place items in the cart naturally – without having to scan barcodes or weigh items – will be a game-changer, especially for Instacart shoppers who shop on behalf of customers. We’re proud to continue working with Caper AI and Instacart to unlock even more innovative solutions that reimagine the in-store grocery shopping experience at Schnucks stores.”

Instacart’s enterprise technology today powers the comprehensive ecommerce platforms for local, regional and national grocers across North America, including ALDI, Costco Canada, Heinen’s, Kroger, Publix, Sprouts, The Fresh Market, Walmart Canada and Wegmans. Instacart first began offering enterprise technology to grocery partners in 2017. Since then, the company has continued to make significant investments in its enterprise business, scaling its engineering team and developing new technologies for grocers.

About Instacart
Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America. Instacart shoppers offer same-day delivery and pickup services to bring fresh groceries and everyday essentials to busy people and families across the U.S. and Canada. Instacart has partnered with more than 600 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from nearly 55,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. Instacart’s platform is available to over 85% of U.S. households and 90% of Canadian households. The company’s cutting-edge enterprise technology also powers the ecommerce platforms of some of the world’s biggest retail players, supporting their white-label websites, applications and delivery solutions. Instacart offers an Instacart Express membership that includes reduced service fees and unlimited free delivery on orders over $35. For more information, visit www.instacart.com. For anyone interested in becoming an Instacart shopper, visit https://shoppers.instacart.com/.