Q&A with Caper’s Co-Founder: AI and Contact-Free Checkout at Fenway Park￼
This spring, we announced that iconic Fenway Park now offers Caper Counter’s AI-powered, contact-free checkout for fans in partnership with Aramark Sports + Entertainment. With the introduction of Caper Counter, baseball fans, concertgoers and more can now seamlessly access their favorite beverages and snacks – by simply placing items on the Counter where they are then identified via visual recognition for a seamless checkout experience.
For fans, this translates to less time waiting in line and more time cheering on their team. On average, we see that Caper Counter decreases transaction times by approximately 65% – and this is just one example of why we’re focused on powering in-store technologies for our retail and food service partners alike.
Lindon Gao is Instacart’s VP of Engineering and Caper co-founder. Lindon is passionate about how AI and in-store technologies are at the core of the evolution of grocery, and we sat down with him to learn more about Caper Counter’s debut at Fenway and what this means for retailers.
Q: Caper Counter just rolled out at Fenway. What difference do you think this will make for fans?
A: At Fenway, Caper Counters are helping to reduce lines for fans and speed up transactions – ultimately helping fans get back to the center of the action and spend less time waiting for snacks and beverages. With Caper Counter, we’re not only helping retailers to create a contact-free checkout experience, but we’re creating opportunities for retailers to decrease transaction times. Ultimately, Caper Counter is helping with customer throughput – we’re allowing customers to quickly grab what they want and return to their seats.
Q: Can you explain how Caper Counters work at Fenway?
A: Fans can locate one of two areas at Fenway that have Caper Counters – Truly Terrace and Walk Thru Bru. People can then select their items and place them on Caper Counter, where items will be automatically detected and added to the cart for checkout. After selecting ‘pay’ and choosing from either a credit card, loaded ticket or Red Sox Rewards as their methods of payment, fans will then be able to gather their food and beverages, completing a seamless, autonomous transaction.
Q: When we talk about the future of retail, how do you envision AI playing an integral role?
A: There are two major ways that I think about AI and the future of retail. The first is leveraging computer vision – for example, Caper Counter uses AI and visual recognition to expedite the checkout process. This means fewer lines for customers which in turn, means a more seamless shopping experience. Second, I think about machine learning and the impact it can make on customers’ purchasing behaviors. Through ML, we can leverage search history, dietary preferences, where you are in the store and more – all to give you the best recommendations on what to put in your basket.
Q: How does Caper fit into the overarching Instacart Platform strategy?
A: Caper Counter is part of our in-store pillar of Instacart Platform. With Instacart Platform, our goal is to provide retailers with access to the technologies behind Instacart’s consumer marketplace to power their own digital properties and retail operations. Instacart Platform brings together the technologies retailers need to improve the consumer experience online or in-store and digitize the end-to-end grocery operation – and as part of this, Caper is enhancing the brick-and-mortar store experience with connected hardware.
Q: What excites you most about powering in-store technologies for our retail partners?
A: With Caper Counter, we’re helping to solve for peak traffic times for a number of checkout cases, including in-store grocery meals, convenience stores, small basket grocery and new verticals such as cosmetics, pet supplies, office supplies and more. In addition to Counters, we also offer a larger scale solution for our retailer partners – Caper Carts. These are smart carts that auto-detect items instantly with AI-powered cameras, creating a faster checkout experience for customers and the opportunity to discover more relevant products across the store. We believe that our in-store technologies have the power to revolutionize the brick-and-mortar shopping experience and create deeper personalization. This is just the beginning with Caper Counters.
For more information about Caper by Instacart, visit www.instacart.com/company/platform.
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