Stor.AI (formerly Shelf Point), which makes digital commerce software for grocery stores, announced a new feature this week that allows stores of any size to accept online payment for Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) participants.
The new capability allows stores to accept payments through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) payment cards, split payments across multiple methods, and add virtual tags to an online store showing which items are EBT-eligible.
Up until a couple years ago, SNAP participants were unable to use their EBT card to shop for groceries online, exacerbating digital inequality. In 2018, a startup called All_ebt helped SNAP participants shop for groceries online through a combination of Facebook Messenger and Virtual Visa cards.
The U.S. government got involved in April of 2019, when the USDA launched a pilot program allowing SNAP participants to grocery shop online. That pilot involved a limited number of states and retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
When the pandemic hit the U.S. last year, people were encouraged to stay home and take fewer trips to the grocery store. The inability for SNAP participants to shop for groceries online and forcing them to shop in stores made the issue not just about inequality, but also safety.
Thankfully, SNAP-enabled shopping online got a big boost in 2020, with Kroger accepting SNAP for pickup, Amazon and Walmart expanding EBT payment acceptance across the country, and Instacart partnering with ALDI for grocery delivery to SNAP participants.
With today’s Stor.AI news, even more SNAP participants will be able to buy groceries online. Smaller, neighborhood stores of all shapes and sizes will now be able to accept EBT payments and serve more customers.
These moves, of course, don’t eliminate the inequalities present in our current food system. They are, however good steps towards bridging the digital divide and allowing more people to benefit from the modernization of grocery retail.