One question that comes up when you talk about cashierless checkout is, What do you do with all the cashiers that are no longer needed? Veeve, with its smart shopping cart, thinks it may have an answer.
Based in a suburb outside of Seattle, WA, Veeve makes a smart shopping cart tricked out with cameras and sensors that keeps track of of what you place in it and charges you automatically upon exiting the store. The Veeve cart also has a touchscreen that can guide you to items in-store, present recipes and alert you to deals.
Those features aren’t entirely new. Caper also creates a similar type of cashierless checkout shopping cart. What Veeve does a little differently is that in addition to being available for consumer use cases, its shopping carts can also be a tool for store employees (like former cashiers).
I spoke with Veeve Co-Founder and CEO Shariq Siddiqui this week by phone and he explained that Veeve carts can be a way for stores to create their own Instacart-style shoppers. For example, I could place an order using a grocery store’s app. That grocery list is sent to the Veeve cart where an employee can use it to pick out and assemble the order either for curbside pickup or delivery. In addition to retaining employees, the store doesn’t turn a customer (and all of their data) over to a third-party like Instacart.
Siddiqui also outlined a scenario where everyday shoppers could earn a little extra money by picking up groceries for other people. So if I’m going to my local market, I could get someone else’s shopping list on my cart and deliver those groceries on my way back home.
Siddiqui said that Veeve, which raised $2.5 million in seed funding last November, is still finalizing its business model. But because it works with independent grocery stores, it leases its carts out on a monthly, per cart basis that is “cheaper than a cashier.”
Veeve also has a more advertising-forward business model where it takes a cut of any sales generated by recommendations or upsells delivered via the cart’s on-board touchscreen. This could be done either in partnership with the store or with a big CPG brand with lots of products across store aisles.
I asked Siddiqui why a store should go with a smart cart solution rather than a broader in-store installation of cashierless checkout tech. “The ROI doesn’t make sense when retrofitting store,” he said. “The capital expenditure has a 20 year ROI. You’re just not going to do it. Amazon can do it. Walmart can do it. But the average metropolitan market, that is not a realistic proposition for them.”
The question now is whether Veeve’s dual-use smart cart will be enough of a proposition for stores.