Instacart has introduced several updates to Instacart Storefront, which powers owned and operated e-commerce storefronts for more than 550 retail banners, as well as to its Caper Carts, the company’s smart shopping carts. The changes will help retailers enhance their e-commerce strategy, digitize their stores and build AI-powered omnichannel experiences, according to a media release.
“We’ve long believed the future of grocery — and commerce in general — isn’t online or in-store, it’s both. And now, more than ever, it’s being supercharged with AI,” Asha Sharma, chief operating officer, said in the release, noting that omnichannel shoppers are particularly more valuable to retailers. “And, good data is the foundation for good AI solutions for retailers,”
Sharma said that Instacart’s operational advantage is built around the company’s “dynamic grocery catalog” — which she says includes 1.4 billion items and more than 6,000 item updates per second — paired with over a decade of knowledge about how people shop for groceries online.
The New Instacart Storefront
Instacart Storefront is an end-to-end omnichannel digital commerce platform designed specifically for grocery, including Costco in the U.S. and Canada, Northeast Grocery’s Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Friendly Markets. The company previously rolled out new capabilities in August designed to make it easier for retailers to customize storefronts and launch shoppable campaigns for holidays or special occasions.
The updated Instacart Storefront is built on the same core infrastructure as the Instacart app, and gives retailers access to more and newer solutions, faster, including those powered by Instacart’s 150 proprietary AI models, according to the release. Instacart says it tests new features on its mobile app and brings the most successful ones to retailers’ storefronts.
For example, Instacart began rolling out AI-powered conversational search to the updated Instacart Storefront over the summer so customers can ask open-ended questions such as, “What do I need to make fish tacos?” or “What’s a nutritious lunch for my kids?” directly in the search bar on retailers’ storefronts. The company says it processes millions of search queries a day — and hundreds per second during peak time — and this capability uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT models alongside Instacart’s own product data and AI models.
Instacart is also introducing an “In-Store” mode, which turns retailers’ apps into companions when customers shop in stores. In-Store mode helps shoppers see what’s in stock, view important details about items on their list (e.g., nutrition information, whether they’re EBT SNAP-eligible, etc.), get product recommendations, sort items by aisle and access in-store promotions and discounts. It also helps retailers better understand their customers however they shop. In-Store mode will be available in select areas on retailers’ Instacart Storefront-powered apps, including Food Bazaar, Gelson’s and Stew Leonards, and is also being tested on the Instacart App.
"The new Instacart Storefront takes our partnership one step further, making the overall experience even more dynamic, equipping our team with powerful tools to showcase and market our extensive and diverse product line to our customers, and allowing for more seamless integrations, especially with critical channels such as our weekly flyer or loyalty,” Ed Suh, executive vice president at Food Bazaar, said in the release. “These powerful backend tools, combined with a more customer-friendly app shopping experience, fully aligns our e-commerce strategy with our overall commitment to convenience at every customer touchpoint."
Additionally, the Instacart Storefront update also includes merchandising and marketing capabilities such as shoppable digital flyers, more self-serve capabilities that allow anyone to become an e-commerce administrator, and enhanced tooling and analytics.
Caper Carts Get Smarter
Instacart has also unveiled a number of updates to its Caper Carts, which are already being deployed in stores across the U.S. by retailers such as Bristol Farms, Schnucks, ShopRite and Fairway Market. They include:
- Upgraded AI models designed to improve the speed and precision of camera and weight sensors on Instacart’s latest version of Caper Cart. The models update automatically and learn over time to improve the scanless technology.
- The ability to order made-to-order items like deli sandwiches or custom cakes directly from the carts — powered by FoodStorm, Instacart’s order management solution. Customers can order from their Caper Cart as they browse the aisles, so they don’t need to wait in line at the counter.
- New in-store rewards for Caper Carts so retailers can offer shoppers points, coupons or badges for completing actions like logging into a loyalty account, adding certain items to the cart or trying a cart for the first time.
- A new Caper Cart dock, which lets retailers provide a permanent place for Caper Carts to be stored and charged. Caper Carts offer stacked charging, so shoppers access and return them just like they would with traditional shopping carts.