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Instacart is thinking about a self-checkout system, patent reveals

Instacart is thinking about a self-checkout system, patent reveals
[Photo: courtesy of Instacart]

Instacart has filed a patent for a mobile self-checkout system that would allow shoppers to bypass in-store checkouts. While a patent filing doesn’t necessarily mean that a product is forthcoming, it provides interesting insight into the way a company is thinking about its future.

Instacart is a service that does your grocery shopping for you, delivering it to your door. The patent details a mobile application and online concierge service that would allow shoppers to make purchases on behalf of customers, thereby bypassing the checkout line. Essentially, Instacart is looking at ways to speed up its delivery operations. This mobile app would ostensibly let its concierge shoppers fulfill orders without having to stand in line with regular shoppers to make purchases.

Shoppers would instead have a mobile application they can use to scan each item in the customer’s order, make the purchase online, and then ship the order out. There is another method included in the patent wherein shoppers would make the purchase via their app and then get a code that they can scan at checkout that verifies the purchase. See below.

 “The system transmits the order to a shopper, who receives an order for fulfillment on a mobile device. The shopper collects and scans items using a mobile application. The mobile application 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 application encodes an identification of the items for purchase into an encoded image, which is scanned by a cashier, allowing the shopper to complete an accelerated.”

The patent follows the launch of Amazon’s cashier-less store Amazon Go. Since Amazon announced its purchase of Whole Foods last year, Instacart has emerged as a sort of savior to traditional grocery retail. Many grocers are concerned that Amazon, with its well-developed logistics infrastructure, will be able to quickly and cheaply deliver high-quality groceries to consumers around the country.

Instacart’s delivery service stands to provide grocers like Kroger and Publix, with the same sort of offering. In less than a year, the company has on-boarded a number of major grocers.

Back in November, Apoorva Mehta, Instacart’s founder and CEO, told Fast Company he was thinking about ways to bypass checkout. We’ve reached out to Instacart for comment.

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