Instacart files patent for checkout-free tech

Same-day grocery delivery service is looking to shorten wait times


With mobile self-checkout technology increasingly permeating the grocery industry, third-party delivery service Instacart now may be planning to introduce a system of its own, according to a patent filed by the San Francisco-based company.

The online shopping concierge service is intended to allow Instacart shoppers to purchase items on behalf of customers and checkout using a mobile app. According to the patent, here’s how it would work:

  • A customer places an order using a mobile app or website.
  • The system transmits the order to an Instacart shopper, who receives an order for fulfillment on a mobile device.
  • The shopper collects and scans items using a mobile app.
  • The mobile app transmits an identification of the items for purchase and their total cost to the online shopping concierge service, which transmits payment to the retailer. Alternatively, the mobile app enters an identification of the items for purchase into an encoded image, which is scanned by a cashier, allowing the shopper to complete an accelerated checkout.

While a filed patent doesn’t mean a solution will come to fruition, it’s evidence that more food retailers are adding technology to help shoppers skip checkout lines. Aside from arguably the most-discussed example, Amazon Go, food retailers such as Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada and Walmart and Kroger in the U.S. are adding scan and purchase technology.

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