New Omnichannel and AI Solutions to Help Grocery Thrive



Sep 7, 2023

At Instacart, we’ve long believed that the future of grocery – and commerce in general – isn’t online or in-store. It’s both. And now more than ever, it’s being supercharged with AI. 

Omnichannel customers are more valuable to retailers, and because grocery is the largest, most complex retail category, it’s critically important that grocers have a technology partner that understands their industry and the unique challenges they face. 

That’s why we’re developing tools – from e-commerce storefronts to fulfillment capabilities to in-store technologies that seamlessly connect – built specifically for grocers to serve their customers no matter how they shop. And through our AI solutions, we pair more than a decade of knowledge about how people like to shop for groceries online with our dynamic grocery catalog – one of the largest in the industry, with 1.4 billion items and more than 6,000 item updates per second – and turn it into an operational advantage for our retail partners. 

Today, we’re announcing even more Instacart Platform technologies to help build seamless, connected grocery experiences across online and in-store, enhanced with AI. 

The new Instacart Storefront, featuring In-Store mode to turn retailers’ apps into omnichannel shopping companions

First, we’re announcing a major update to Instacart Storefront, an end-to-end omnichannel digital commerce platform built specifically for grocery that’s used by Costco in the US and Canada, Price Chopper/Market 32, Tops Friendly Markets, and more than 550 other retail banners. The new Instacart Storefront brings together many of our technologies, including certain best practices and capabilities from acquired companies like FoodStorm and Rosie, into one core solution that makes it easy to get online and grows as your business grows. 

With the new Instacart Storefront, retailers can build their own e-commerce storefront in a matter of weeks. Retailers that are ready to invest further in their digital commerce can upgrade to the Pro tier to unlock premium features, white glove support, the ability to build a retail media network, and third-party integrations that connect their digital storefronts to their full tech ecosystem – such as existing CRM, loyalty program, and coupon providers.

The new Instacart Storefront is truly omnichannel. It features a new In-Store mode, which turns retailers’ apps into a companion as customers shop in stores. 

In-Store mode lets customers plan their shopping trips before they get to the store. They can build shopping lists from home and get important details such as stock levels, nutrition information – like whether something is kosher or low sodium – and EBT-SNAP eligibility. In-Store mode also lets customers see what’s on sale, clip coupons, and make sure their list stays within budget by keeping an eye on the running total as they add items. 

Then, when they get to the store, In-Store mode automatically sorts lists by aisle, gives customers access to in-store promotions and discounts, and makes it easier to use store loyalty cards. 

In-Store mode helps retailers better understand their customers, no matter if they shop online, in stores, or both. We’re testing it on the Instacart App in select areas, and Food Bazaar, Gelson’s, and Stew Leonards will be launching In-Store mode within their own Instacart Storefront-powered apps in select areas. 

Bringing tried-and-true innovations to retailers’ storefronts, including AI-powered conversational search

The new Instacart Storefront gives retailers access to the best of Instacart’s e-commerce technology – first tested on the Instacart App – and with this update we’re able to bring new features to retailers’ websites and apps faster than ever before. 

For example, a few months ago we launched “Ask Instacart,” which uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT alongside Instacart’s own AI and product data so customers can ask open-ended questions such as “What do I need to make fish tacos?” or “What’s a nutritious lunch for my kids?” directly in their search bar. After honing it on the Instacart App, we’re now bringing AI-powered conversational search to retailers’ storefronts as well. 

Search is the primary way customers choose to shop for groceries online; Instacart processes millions of search queries a day, and hundreds per second during peak time. This capability uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT models alongside Instacart’s own product data and more than proprietary AI models. 

The new Instacart Storefront also includes new merchandising and marketing capabilities such as shoppable digital flyers, more self-serve capabilities that allow anyone to become an e-commerce administrator, and better tooling and analytics. 

Plus, it’s natively integrated with Instacart’s full set of omnichannel solutions – including our Lists feature on Caper Carts, our smart carts, which makes it easy to use your online list when you’re shopping in-person. Caper Carts are getting some new updates too. 

Caper Carts get even smarter with new in-store rewards and ordering options, AI upgrades, and a new dock

With Caper Carts – AI-powered smart carts equipped with touchscreens, scales, sensors, and computer vision technology – customers can bag as they go and check out right from the cart. Just like In-Store mode, Caper Carts enable retailers to digitally engage and retain customers as they shop in-store.

Customers can now order made-to-order items like deli sandwiches or custom cakes directly from their Caper Cart, powered by FoodStorm, our order management solution. They’re notified when their order is ready for pick-up, eliminating the need to stand in line and wait for it to be ready. FoodStorm and Caper Carts work seamlessly together to help grocers promote more of their signature fresh and prepared items and grow basket sizes.

We’re also launching new in-store rewards for Caper Carts, so that retailers can offer incentives – such as points, coupons, and badges – for completing actions like logging into a loyalty account, adding certain items to the cart, or even trying a Caper Cart for the first time. Gamification increases user engagement, makes the shopping experience more fun, and unlocks new ways for retailers to cultivate omnichannel customers.


Newly upgraded AI models improve the speed and precision of camera and weight sensors, delivering a more seamless shopping experience and improving the detection of suspicious activity. Caper Carts learn and improve over time, and over-the-air updates deliver continuous enhancements. 

Finally, we’re announcing a new Caper Cart dock, which provides a permanent place for Caper Carts to be stored and charged. Since Caper Carts are the only smart cart on the market to offer stacked charging, customers access and return them just like they would traditional shopping carts – no need for carts to be charged individually. 

Caper Carts have been rolling into select stores, including at Bristol Farms, ShopRite, and Fairway Market, with Schnucks launching in the coming months.  

Built with grocery expertise, alongside grocery partners, for grocers of all sizes

For the last decade, we’ve worked with grocers to bring their businesses online, and we’re excited to launch these new capabilities alongside our retail partners and help grocers of all sizes leverage AI to improve experiences online and in-store. 

We look forward to continuing to help our partners grow, and to innovate and invent the future of grocery together. 

Want to join us on this journey? Share a little bit about your business and let’s build something exceptional together.



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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