While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.
Amazon has already proven with its "Go" stores that, using a combination of AI, sensors, and cameras, a completely cashier-free checkout experience is possible.
However, even if the system pays off in the long-run, it's complex and difficult to scale. Installing and maintaining hundreds (if not thousands) of cameras and sensors across a superstore like Walmart or Target is likely a bit impractical.
That's where Caper comes in. The start-up, founded by CEO Lindon Gao, has been working on an "AI-powered shopping cart" that will let customers simply grab items from store shelves and toss them in.
At that point, Caper says built-in sensors can automatically identify each item and tally up the total price of the cart's contents. At the end of a shopping trip, customers can pay using a built-in payment terminal.
It's easy to see how valuable Caper's solution could be to major retailers. Unlike Amazon Go's camera-based checkout technology, Caper's carts sound much more scalable, without compromising on the promise of cashier-free shopping.
Caper has begun testing its technology in "2 grocery chains," but only in a more limited format for now. Shoppers have to manually scan each item's barcode before placing it in their cart, so the process isn't as automatic as Caper hopes it will be in the future.
However, that could change during the rest of 2019, as Caper says it's hoping to launch its technology across 150 additional store locations throughout the year.