How Instacart's Smart 'Caper Cart' Could Change The Way You Shop

Advances in shopping tech are moving us closer and closer to being The Jetsons.

Instacart just announced new shopping cart technology that may completely change your grocery experience. Whether you use the notes app on your phone, a physical piece of paper, or some other method to jot down your grocery list, getting everything on the list doesn't always go as planned. But, the capabilities of this high-tech shopping cart might just change that.

What the Instacart Caper Cart can do

In 2021, Instacart announced its acquisition of AI technology company Caper AI, and it looks like shoppers at grocery stores like Wakefern Food Corp., Schnucks, and Joseph's Classic Market may see some of the fruits of that acquisition very soon.


However, before those stores see what this AI technology can do, Instacart plans to open a "Connected Store" in Irvine, California in partnership with Bristol Farms. The connected store will implement all of Instacart's newest technology enhancements, starting with its new Caper Cart. The shopping cart itself was previously in use at some Kroger locations, but did not have the actual AI technology behind it. Plus, this new version is reportedly lighter, slimmer and can hold 65% more than before.

The new Caper Cart allows shoppers to sync their grocery list to a touchscreen on the cart. From there, the cart informs customers where to find their items and checks them off the list as they're placed in the cart. The new technology updates also lets shoppers choose an item from their phone and trigger a light that will flash on the shelf to the corresponding product so it is easier to find. And when the shopping is all done, the cart helps you skip standing in any lines because it lets you pay for your items on its touch screen.


Instacart's push for a tech-forward shopping experience seems to combine some of the best digital capabilities already in use by others in the same industry. For example, Target's app has similar features, allowing you to create a shopping list and linking those items to your specific Target location so it can tell you in what aisle each item can be found. Amazon has its cashier-less experience at its Amazon Go locations. Instacart's new shopping cart may help smaller grocery stores compete with these larger chains by giving them an affordable major technology upgrade.

But no matter how advanced grocery shopping technology becomes, there's one thing I can always rely on: I'm going to forget something. It's pretty much guaranteed that I will get home from the store and realize I forgot to write something on the list. In a weird way this comforts me. If you're worried about this sort of tech removing the "human" aspect of shopping, at least you know you can always rely on yourself to put the "human" in "human error."