Today, Instacart rolled out a slew of new updates to its grocery technology platform, updating capabilities across its white label turnkey digital commerce platform, its AI-powered search capabilities, and new features for its Caper Cart smart shopping cart. The new feature-set rollout marks further integration of the string of acquisitions the company has made over the past couple of years as it refashions itself from a pioneering personal-shopper service to a technology arms dealer for grocery retailers.
One of the key upgrades was around the company’s white-label commerce platform, Instacart Storefront. The company, which counts Costco among others as customers for the Storefront platform, gives access to Instacart’s machine learning technology, access to its white label mobile app, and a variety of other features. The company also talked up its ability to connect the online and app experience to in-store shopping via list sorting by aisle, highlighting in-store promotions and discounts, and enabling customers to use store loyalty cards.
This spring, Instacart rolled out generative AI conversational search via its website and now has added it to the in-store experience via the app. According to Instacart, the app will give customers access its ChatGPT integration via search, alongside Instacart’s own product data and proprietary AI models.
And finally, the company announced a slew of upgrades for its Caper Cart smart shopping cart. The new updates will allow customers to order made-to-order items like deli sandwiches or custom cakes directly from their Caper Cart, and will also enable retailers to offer incentives like coupons and points for completing actions like adding certain items to a cart or trying the Caper Cart for the first time. The company also is rolling out a Caper Cart dock, a permanent charging and storage place for Caper Carts.
These moves are further evidence of a strategic pivot I wrote about two years ago, in which Instacart transitions itself into a provider of technology solutions for grocery retailers:
With the move, Instacart adds another tool to a growing arsenal of e-commerce and in-store technology solutions targeted towards grocery providers at a time many are beginning to question their relationship with the company.
… as Instacart grows its enterprise technology solutions, I expect we’ll increasingly see its flagship shopper service decoupled from its technology as it looks to serve larger retailers who want greater control over the customer relationship. Since the start of the pandemic, many grocery retailers have started to roll out and standardize around their delivery services, which means a fast-growing market for technology solutions. My guess is Instacart is anticipating this as it rolls up some of the best-in-class independent solution providers as it prepares for an IPO soon.
And, right on time, the new product suite comes just as the company is set to price its IPO as soon as next week.