Amazon says it has built a better smart shopping cart

Discussion
Photo: Amazon
Jul 12, 2022

Amazon.com has introduced the newest version of its Dash Cart, a smart shopping cart that enables customers to skip a store’s physical checkouts and go right out the door. The retail and technology giant says this next-generation cart includes a number of enhancements that will make it easier and more convenient to shop.

Dilip Kumar, VP physical retail and technology at Amazon, writing on a company blog says the new carts are lighter than the previous version and are able to hold twice as many shopping bags as before (four compared to two). The carts have an added “delicates shelf” and a lower shelf for oversized packages.

“We doubled the capacity of the cart while maintaining the ability to quickly measure produce weight for certified accuracy and price,” wrote Mr.Kumar. “Consider stepping onto a scale, which usually takes a few moments to stabilize and produce a final weight. The Dash Cart stabilizes nearly instantly — we’ve created algorithms that can determine signal from noise, like the cart moving through the store (noise), so it can calculate weight (signal) without asking shoppers to stop the cart.”

The new Dash Cart is now weatherproof, which means customers can wheel it out to their cars.

“To test durability, we baked the technology in an oven and froze test carts in a giant freezer to ensure they would survive harsh weather conditions. We also dropped heavy weights into test carts’ baskets more than 100,000 times to ensure they would remain usable after impact — needless to say, we feel confident the Dash Cart is durable,” wrote Mr. Kumar.

Shoppers will see images of nearby items on the screens of their carts as they shop along with messages about the products and special deals. Amazon said it has “evolved” the ability of the carts to determine where they are located within the store.

The carts’ battery-life has also been extended, which cuts down on the amount of time they spend charging and make them more available for customer use.

Mr. Kumar said that the new Dash Cart, which has been available to customers in Amazon Fresh stores, will also be deployed in the coming months at a Whole Foods located in Westford, MA. Amazon intends to continue offering the technology at its new Fresh stores and plans more deployments at Whole Foods, as well.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the reasons that motivate people to use — and to not use — smart carts when they shop? Has Amazon built a better smart shopping cart?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Be assured, Amazon would rather see their carts in Kroger than Whole Foods."
"Amazon has a potentially significant revenue stream in offering Just Walk Out capabilities and the smart cart as a service for the grocery industry..."
"Solving minor inconveniences is not going to lead to billions of dollars invested in buying these carts."

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22 Comments on "Amazon says it has built a better smart shopping cart"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I am still not convinced by this. It seems like a complex, over-engineered solution which is very expensive for a full-line grocery store to implement. On top of this, I am not convinced that every customer wants offers and distractions popping up on a screen as they shop. A simpler solution is to allow consumers to use their phones to scan and check-out automatically.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

I agree with Neil. I am surprised more grocers and other retailers haven’t leveraged consumers’ phones to scan and pay automatically. It seems to be the most economical way to offer consumers shop and go convenience.

storewanderer
Guest
28 days 20 hours ago

Walmart Plus with a subscription fee allows this and Sam’s Club does too….

Kroger previously had a scan-bag-go app you could download and do this too but they eliminated the app. Then they eliminated the whole scan-bag-go concept.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Do you know why Kroger eliminated the scan and go app?

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Speed, ease and convenience make smart carts enticing to shoppers. We still love stores yet we’ve grown impatient with long waits in checkout lines.

Fast, accurate product identification and real-time content strengthen Amazon’s leadership in the smart cart space. Expanding access to this technology will help Amazon drive sales in physical stores.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

The advertising Amazon is able to do on the screens while users shop is the biggest win for the brand, in my opinion, as I worry about the accuracy and efficiency of this still. Self-checkout uses weight in a lot of instances, and it slows the process down considerably. I’m wondering why they’re focusing on this alternative to Just Walk Out technology because that is such a winner in my book – for retailers and shoppers.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Some consumers will mistrust the accuracy of the carts’ count and retail price. Some (these will disappear by attrition) will avoid using a newfangled technology. The rest will embrace this technology over time. Some carts will be more intuitive than others. Other carts will be perceived to be completely accurate. Additionally, as more chains deploy these devices, the same consumer will be exposed to more variations on the theme until they are fully accustomed to it and are able to use more smart carts.

storewanderer
Guest
28 days 20 hours ago

The cart shows you a running total as you go and you diligently check the total on your cart, as you go.

With that said, I used the cart at a Fresh and noticed after that I charged myself twice for the same item. Refund was granted, but I will be more careful next time. I thought I was careful.

The item that double charged had multiple bar codes on the package. I think the cart thought it was multiple items.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

These carts are not designed for Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods. Those venues are to prove the technology and shopper response. Be assured, Amazon would rather see their carts in Kroger than Whole Foods.

These carts have been designed for ease, convenience, and speed of the shopping experience.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust
The “smart cart” idea has been around for a long time. For a long time smart carts were a solution looking for a problem. The issues for a long time have been the cost of the carts, the durability of the carts, charging issues, and customer adoption. Amazon is right to focus on durability and battery life. I’m not surprised that the version too fragile for customers to take into the parking lot wasn’t a big hit. I believe that cost and battery issues can be solved — the more significant issue, in my opinion, is in customer adoption and ROI. The interface for a device like this has to be frictionless for the customer. While some tech-savvy folks will enjoy navigation screens and enhanced digital experiences of their favorite grocery aisles, I suspect most consumers want to get in and out of the store fast. And they have the layouts of their favorite stores memorized. For them, this device just adds more friction to their shopping experience. For most customers, I suspect a cart… Read more »
Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

Interesting to see new tries at an old idea. One of my first professional assignments in 1991 was to do a full evaluation on SmartCarte (sp?) — a strikingly similar solution. Of course, technology has come a long way and shopping habits have evolved substantially, since the early ’90s. However some of the conclusions remain the same. First, customers will use it if there is a true benefit — be it time, convenience, or some other incentive. The benefit here is yet to be proven. Second, retailers will adopt it if it creates more value, particularly if it results in cost reduction. Third, the quality and quantity of technology mean nothing if the retailer doesn’t get the merchandise and customer experience right. I won’t be interested in a cart that can weigh my tomatoes if I can’t get good tomatoes in the first place. This juror is still out.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Two or three people in line ahead of you is not “waiting in long lines.” With customers able to shop at various parts of the day and week, this basic ethos for speed versus cost doesn’t ring true. Who wants to shop in a store basically looking down at their feet much of the time trying to make the checkout easier? Color me #doubtful.

Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

Amazon’s latest Dash Cart reminds me of doing R&D in a lab that happens to be a live shopping environment. The shoppers are willing participants providing valuable user feedback, so the design- form, function, and technology continuously evolves. I expect many more advances in future Dash Carts and dramatically lower costs in the coming years.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Today’s instant poll poses an interesting question. “How close is smart shopping cart technology to being widely scaled in grocery stores?”

It took Amazon 14 years to show its first profit. That patience says everything about Amazon’s philosophy and strategy. The choice of a “somewhat distant future” may be 10 years or more. That definition is true for most companies, but for Amazon it may be calling 10 years as “somewhat close.”

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Speed can kill. Most grocers will tell us that foot traffic and enticing product presentations create bigger tickets. Maybe this jet stream approach will lessen unplanned item sales.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

To a customer the speed of checkout is important. To the grocer, the cost is paramount. Having checked out in automated lanes in both a warehouse store and my local grocer last week, with about a 30 percent “help is on the way” incidence per item, I’m not sure we’ve solved the simpler use case, let alone are we ready for a Rube Goldberg cart. I hope this one works better. I wonder if I can get Amazon auto broadcasting on the screen and finally find that last item on my list…

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust
The grocery checkout experience continues to be one of the more challenging parts of the supermarket customer journey. With the advent of the self-checkout, Amazon Go (Just Walk Out checkout) and now smart carts, the grocery industry is collectively finding innovative ways to make the checkout experience more efficient and cost effective. The most significant innovation over the past 30-plus years in the grocery industry was the bar code scanner, which has paid dividends. However there are labor and cost implications with this legacy operating model. Time-strapped customers do not have the patience or interest to wait 20-plus minutes to checkout. Additionally, while somewhat more efficient, the self-checkout model is flawed and essentially puts all the pressure on the customer to check out, with frequent stoppages and issues. Amazon has a potentially significant revenue stream in offering Just Walk Out capabilities and the smart cart as a service for the grocery industry, particularly for Kroger, Aldi, Food Lion, and other competitors. The ultimate goal and benefits for Amazon are the powerful consumer insights that will… Read more »
Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This is a rather funny announcement from Amazon. Basically it says “it’s a shopping cart.” That said, like so much technology — they have a solution in search of a problem. Solving minor inconveniences is not going to lead to billions of dollars invested in buying these carts.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

The smart shopping cart has its place. Caper AI has done a fantastic job with its shopping cart and the best part is the automatic identification of products, which translates into a fast checkout. More importantly — and this is where Amazon is not really holding true to their vision – the carts are designed not for customer ease of use, but lowering labor costs at checkout for retailers. Again, it’s Amazon trying to find ways to sell picks and shovels – what they do best. The big problem for retailers adopting this tech will be the cost. You don’t replace a $200 cart with a $3000-5000 one that needs to be recharged and maintained and shares data. We’ll see more of these experimentally, but it won’t be at the level of general availability anytime soon.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Freezing, baking, dropping: they seem to have thought of everything … except, perhaps the possibility that demand for this is small. There may be people whose time constraints are such that skipping checkout would be a major plus, but if such is true I wonder if they really have enough time to be making full cart purchases in the first place.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

This appears to be a technology, and a potentially expensive technology, in search of a solution. Keep it simple. Most customers have the most sophisticated, convenient and inexpensive tool in their possession — namely, their cell phone. Amazon usually gets it right. Not so certain in this case.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Yes! This is not only a better shopping cart for Amazon, but do not be surprised if Amazon starts to offer it to other grocers as part of a way to enhance their viability while using Amazon technology, hardware, and growing through the Amazon portal! Smart cart wars will become common place as others seek to copy and follow suit.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Be assured, Amazon would rather see their carts in Kroger than Whole Foods."
"Amazon has a potentially significant revenue stream in offering Just Walk Out capabilities and the smart cart as a service for the grocery industry..."
"Solving minor inconveniences is not going to lead to billions of dollars invested in buying these carts."

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