Technology & Equipment

Amazon, Instacart bring cashierless checkout to the major leagues

The companies’ grab-and-go tech is in action at baseball stadiums in Boston and Houston.
caper counter
Photo courtesy of Instacart

Grocery deliverer Instacart this week unveiled its Caper Counter, an AI-powered point-of-sale system, at Boston’s Fenway Park, just one week after Amazon brought its Just Walk Out cashierless technology to two stores at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. 

Both efforts are aimed at offering a more streamlined and seamless shopping experience for Major League Baseball fans, allowing them to get snacks and drinks more quickly so they can return to their seats faster.

At Fenway Park, where foodservice is managed by Aramark Sports + Entertainment. game-goers will be able to use three Caper Counters for contact-free checkout in select areas around the Boston stadium, including at the Truly Terrace and Walk Thru Bru. The system visually detects and identifies items based on their shape, color, key features and sizes.

Customers place items for purchase on the Caper Counter, where they are automatically detected and added to the cart for checkout. Customers then select “pay” and choose from either a credit card, loaded ticket or team rewards before going on their way. 

“On average, Caper Counter decreases transaction times by approximately 65%,” Lindon Gao, vice president of engineering for Instacart, said in a news release. “We’re excited to continue bridging the gap between in-store and online experiences through our omnichannel solutions and look forward to expanding our partnership with Aramark Sports + Entertainment in the future.”

Caper Counters, which are designed for retailers that have a smaller physical footprint and SKU count, are one example of the in-store technologies offered as a part of Instacart Platform, a suite of enterprise-grade technologies to enhance and digitize retail experiences. 

Meanwhile, Astros fans can skip the checkout using Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech at Minute Maid Park’s 19th Hole store and the Market store, whose offerings include a selection of snacks, soda, candy and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages. 

Fans visiting the Just Walk Out technology-enabled stores enter by inserting a credit card at the entry gates to shop. Once they’re inside, anything they take off the shelf is automatically added to their virtual cart. When they exit the store, the credit card they inserted will be charged for the items they took. Customers purchasing alcohol, however, will be required to show their ID to a store attendant for age verification.

A version of this story appeared on WinsightGroceryBusiness.com.

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