Shopic's AI-Embedded Smart Cart Solution: Enhancing the In-Store Customer Experience
In this exclusive interview, Raz Golan, CEO and co-founder of Shopic, shares insights into their innovative approach to revolutionizing the shopping experience for shoppers and retailers. Their solution involves a clip-on device attached to standard shopping carts, transforming them into smart carts and delivering an in-store experience akin to e-commerce. This integration of AI capabilities aligns with the changing landscape of the grocery industry, as highlighted in research by Grocery Doppio, revealing that 73% of grocery executives anticipate AI's widespread presence in software solutions within the next two years.
Shopic's smart cart addresses significant pain points for retailers and shoppers, streamlining checkout, introducing new retail media communications, and enhancing loyalty through personalized recommendations. The technology aids retailers in tackling labor optimization challenges while empowering them with real-time data for operational optimization and informed decision-making, boosting sales.
Shopic specializes in seamless checkout solutions for physical grocery stores worldwide as a retail solution company based in Tel Aviv. Their smart cart technology, designed as a clip-on unit called Shop-E, enables a personalized and convenient "grab and go" experience. The solution has already demonstrated substantial impact, processing a notable portion of store revenue, ranging from 10-30%, affirming its integration into day-to-day operations.
In an exclusive interview with Grocery Doppio, Raz Golan discusses Shopic's vision for the future of AI-embedded smart carts in the digital grocery landscape. Golan highlights the fusion of technology, experience, and operations as similar solutions mature and prepare to offer enhanced experiences on a larger scale. This evolution departs from traditional operating models, making legacy-based supermarkets more adaptable.
Grocery Doppio: Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start the company.
Golan: Emerging from a background in cyber security and following the typical Israeli trajectory of commencing my career in the army and intelligence forces, my journey led me to partner with Eran Kravitz in co-founding our company. Our impetus was rooted in addressing challenges that had an impact, particularly in physical retail. Focusing on the grocery sector, relatable to many, became our core goal. The challenges, particularly in groceries, resonated strongly. Today, our unwavering focus remains on this domain.
Grocery Doppio: What is your company's mission, and what does it strive to achieve?
Golan: We strive to provide an exceptional shopping experience for shoppers and supermarkets. Additionally, our focus is on assisting retailers in optimizing operations, building stronger shopper relationships, boosting loyalty, and gaining crucial insights into in-store processes and customer service strategies.
Grocery Doppio: Can you explain the architecture of the AI-powered Shop-E?
Golan: Our core goal is to introduce an e-commerce-like experience within physical stores. To achieve this, we engage with shoppers during their store visits, ensuring swift checkouts comparable to online shopping. Our solution, Shop-E, is a clip-on device attached to standard shopping carts. It transforms them into smart carts via cameras and computer vision. We monitor cart activities, automatically identifying added or removed items. We offer timely promotions and seamless payment options. Ultimately, shoppers can swiftly complete their shopping, return the device, and exit the store, all thanks to real-time computer vision analysis.
Grocery Doppio: Please elaborate on the Shop-E smart cart features that address the grocer's major pain points.
Golan: Our solution addresses the major pain points experienced by both shoppers and retailers. For shoppers, our primary focus is on delivering a seamless and efficient shopping experience enriched with valuable interactions, relevant offers, and overall time and cost savings. On the retailer's side, we introduce an avenue of in-aisle communication that was previously untapped. This substantially enhances the in-store relationship and underscores the value proposition. Additionally, our approach mirrors the comprehensive insights seen in e-commerce, where every facet is measured, optimized, and enhanced. Our objective is to empower retailers with an intricate understanding of their store's performance through diverse data points. This includes insights into shopper behavior, optimal routes, time allocation, and item preferences. Armed with these insights, retailers can thoughtfully optimize areas that may be underperforming.
Grocery Doppio: How can the insights from Shopic’s analytics system help a grocer optimize shelf-stocking and follow planogram compliance?
Golan: The Shop-E device integrates insights for shelf-stocking and planogram compliance through four cameras. Two of these cameras are inward-facing, detecting items within the carts. At the same time, the other two are outward-facing, continuously capturing shelf images as shoppers move through the store with our cart-mounted devices. This live feed capability allows us to create a real-time visualization of the shelves, including current stock levels. This has far-reaching implications – we can deliver up-to-date planogram compliance data, aid in identifying shelf shortages, and extend our capabilities to include price label matching and other shelf-management tools for optimizing operations.
Grocery Doppio: What challenges have you faced in implementing your technology in the grocery industry? How does your technology integrate with other technologies that a grocer may already use?
Golan: Regarding challenges, a crucial aspect of our perspective on the grocery industry involves seamlessly integrating new solutions or technologies within a supermarket environment. These solutions must align with the core shopping experience, which forms the backbone of supermarket operations. This challenge arises because introducing innovations into a traditional setting is akin to any novel idea. Furthermore, the compact device on a shopping cart leverages cutting-edge technology in a conventional supermarket context. Ensuring its technical performance meets shoppers' expectations requires significant efforts in terms of both hardware and software. Achieving the point where it was ready for initial scaling posed a considerable challenge, though we've reached that milestone today.
In addition, we've also established robust operational practices to manage and run this solution efficiently, ushering in a new experience without burdening the supermarket with increased staff or additional operational complexities.
Grocery Doppio: Considering the fierce competition in the industry, what is your company's unique proposition? What makes it stand out from others?
Golan: Our distinctive edge lies in the fusion of technology, experience, and operations. The outcome is our clip-on device that harnesses computer vision, condensed into a small edge device on a cart. This approach ensures seamless store operations while delivering these combined benefits – a rarity in the market. It's a sophisticated execution that maintains the store's integrity without imposing new functions, altering infrastructure, or requiring cart changes.
Grocery Doppio: Please elaborate on the key areas and success stories where Shopic’s solutions have proven beneficial for grocers compared to the broader industry. Additionally, what quantifiable metrics can be used to gauge the efficacy of these solutions in the grocery industry?
Golan: Our primary focus, especially in the initial stages, is to gauge shoppers' reactions and adoption of the new shopping experience. Shoppers' acceptance is pivotal – we can do little if they don't embrace it. Fortunately, our observation indicates that shoppers appreciate the new experience. They understand the quicker checkout process, visibility into their cart contents, real-time promotions, and the convenience of bagging items while shopping. These aspects resonate well with shoppers. Presently, we're processing a significant portion of store revenue, ranging from 10% to over 30%, affirming the solution's meaningful integration into day-to-day store operations.
Our solution offers more efficient labor utilization from the retailer's operational standpoint. The reduction in required checkout staff is crucial, particularly in the context of the ongoing labor challenges faced by retailers. This enables freed-up checkout attendants to engage in other store tasks. Additionally, our solution strengthens the store's relationship with shoppers, promoting loyalty. Retailers offering this innovative experience attract new shoppers from neighboring areas, driving further to experience the convenience of this specific store. Notably, our solution also contributes to increased shopper spending and frequency, translating into higher revenue for retailers.
Grocery Doppio: Please provide insight into upcoming products or services your company plans to release.
Golan: In the case of Shopic, we've observed the impact of on-screen interactions. Shoppers value being informed about available options, and this dynamic engagement has been highly appreciated. Our ongoing efforts are directed toward advanced retail media networks and extending these capabilities into physical stores. Collaborating with our retail partners, where we are already operational and those we are actively working with – we're on the cusp of introducing more targeted offers precisely when shoppers need them. This capability is on the verge of being released. Furthermore, we're expanding our data-rich shelf insights, with plans to unveil additional functionalities later this year.
Grocery Doppio: How do you see the market for AI-driven personalization in the grocery industry in the next 5-10 years?
Golan: I'm confident we can witness significant deployments as the market matures. Retailers are grappling with economic challenges, inflation, and evolving shopper preferences, resulting in a more discerning approach to spending. Simultaneously, solutions like Shopic and others that offer similar functionalities are maturing, gearing up to provide these solutions on a larger scale. The convergence of these factors is likely to result in substantial global deployments. We're on the verge of seeing these deployments become increasingly visible as we step into supermarkets.
A Little About Yourself
Grocery Doppio: Tell us about your creative side when you're not developing solutions.
Golan: Establishing and growing a company in the challenging retail landscape necessitates constant creativity and adaptability. This demands innovative thinking from both me and my team. My imagination is primarily channeled into navigating these business challenges. Outside of work, I dedicate time to personal projects and enjoy moments with family and friends. This is how I manage my day-to-day responsibilities.
Grocery Doppio: Please tell us an impactful piece of advice you followed during the challenging days that helped you continue your journey and would inspire new entrepreneurs.
Golan: In the initial stages, when an idea is taking shape, finding the core truth is crucial. Transforming that idea into reality heavily relies on the executing team. My critical advice is to carefully select the right individuals to surround you, be it co-founders, advisors, or the founding team. Success hinges on this essential team dynamic.
As for our outlook, we're genuinely enthusiastic about our work. The industry is finally embracing change after years of stagnation. We're thrilled to participate in this transformation, collaborating with retailers who dare to explore new territories.