A Canadian supermarket was way ahead of its time when it came to contactless grocery checkout.
Sobey’s, a grocery chain in Ontario, launched its Smart Cart in October 2019. This high-tech shopping cart lets customers scan and purchase items as they peruse the aisles. The Smart Carts arrived just in time for the unprecedented global pandemic that would take root only a few months later.
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TikTok user @heyparis shared what shopping at Sobeys was like. She used a scanner that was attached to the handlebar to buy nuts and cleaning supplies, then placed them in the cart. It looked easy enough, but she wasn’t so sure about the experience.
“It was kind of uncomfortable, to be honest… all the employees just watching you extra hard,” she wrote in the caption.
“The introvert in me is like, ‘yaaaaaas,'” one commenter said.
Right now, patrons have to scan items or use the built-in scale for produce. However, Sobey’s hopes that the Smart Cart’s artificial intelligence and machine learning will allow customers to simply throw items in the cart without having to scan or weigh them. The cart has multiple high-resolution cameras that capture the image of a product as soon as its put in the basket.
“You do have to go through all of the motions of scanning and doing the work that someone else would have done, but in this case you’re actually adding value to the experience because you don’t have to wait in line,” Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy, told CTV News.
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