New and Noteworthy

New and Noteworthy

High-Tech Supermarkets

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Grocery stores are not only keeping up with food trends, but high-tech trends too.

Smart carts, customer tracking, and mobile coupons are designed to make the trip to the market quicker, easier, and more personalized.


Microsoft, Whole Foods, and mobile development company Chaotic Moon Studios have partnered to create the prototype for a shopping cart called the Smarter Cart. The cart comes with a Windows 8 tablet computer attached to the handles and a Universal Product Code (UPC) scanner. Before a shopping trip, consumers can create a profile and pre-program their grocery lists and dietary preferences and restrictions.

When they get to the store, the fun begins. Using the Microsoft Kinect software for voice recognition and navigation, the cart listens to and follows shoppers around the store. The cart can also track customers’ shopping lists, identify items scanned in and out of the cart, offer recipe suggestions for single items or a combination of items in the cart, monitor expiration dates, and more. When they are ready to check out, the cart rings them up and charges their accounts, leaving no need to see a cashier. The cart has been tested out at a Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas. Chaotic Moon planned to start testing more than one cart at a time at the store this April.


During each shopping trip, you might be sharing intimate details about yourself. That's because many retailers are behind the scenes studying consumer patterns to figure out what you like, what you need, and what coupons you are most likely to use.

Companies such as retail intelligence specialist, Beonic Corporation, have developed a number of customer facing technologies being used in retail and public facilities. These technologies are designed to track customer behavior and provide a glimpse into how people shop and include:

  • Flow tracking and heat maps that provide continuous flow tracking and analysis throughout the supermarket.
  • Technology that also tracks dwell time, so grocers know how long people dwell in specific aisles, in front of advertisements, and other fixtures. Knowing this can help them identify the needs of customers and quantify the value of specific areas.
  • Traffic analysis that integrates people-counting data with sales data to provide insight into levels of customer service, effectiveness of advertising, and a variety of other performance benchmarks. 


Clipping paper coupons may soon become a thing of the past as markets adopt mobile phone text-coupon programs. In 2010, supermarket chain A&P started offering shoppers the option to receive a coupon alerts sent directly to their mobile phones. An A&P shopper who has opted in will receive an offer via text message and after replying with a code, will have the coupon automatically deposited in their account, which is linked to the store’s customer loyalty program. At check out, the customer just swipes their loyalty program card and the coupon amount is automatically and instantly deducted from the bill and the savings are printed on the receipt. No fumbling around to sort paper coupons.

These are just a few of the gadgets that are transforming the grocery shopping experience. We bet there will be more high-tech features in store as technology continues to evolve.

Author: Darice Britt

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