Instacart acquires Caper for AI-powered shopping cart and checkout tech

Over time, Instacart plans to integrate Caper's technology into the Instacart app, as well as its retail partners' platforms, for a more blended in-store and digital grocery shopping experience.

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Instacart

Instacart on Tuesday announced it's acquiring Caper AI, a five year-old startup that makes smart shopping carts and checkout counters. The online grocery platform paid approximately $350 million in cash and stock for Caper. 

The acquisition will help Instacart continue to expand its enterprise services, and it will allow Instacart to create grocery shopping experiences that make use of both online and in-store tools. 

Caper's smart carts rely on object recognition. Customers can place items into their cart without having to scan or weigh them and checkout right at the cart. The carts also 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.

Caper's smart checkout counters use cameras and a weight sensor to automatically detect and identify items, creating an easier and faster express checkout flow.  

The company's smart carts are currently deployed at North American retailers, including Instacart partners Kroger and Wakefern, as well as Sobeys in Canada and Auchan in France and Spain. Their smart checkout counters have been deployed in convenience stores. 

Over time, Instacart plans to integrate Caper's technology into the Instacarcart app, as well as its retail partners' platforms, for a more blended in-store and digital grocery shopping experience. For instance, customers will be able to build online shopping lists and browse recipes ahead of time and check off their lists as they go.

Instacart's enterprise technology currently powers the e-commerce platforms for 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. The Caper acquisition follows Instacart's recent acquisition of FoodStorm, which offers order-ahead and catering technology for retailers.

"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," Instacart CEO Fidji Simo said in a statement. "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."