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Futuristic Grocery Stores Could Feature Robot Shopping Carts, Shelves That Connect To Your Phone

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Future grocery stores could feature robotic carts that drive themselves and help you find goods. Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images

The future of grocery stores and retail will be driven by smartphones and robots that do things for you.

Innovative technologies, including robotic shopping carts and grocery store shelves with digital screens that automatically update prices and can connect to a smartphone, are set to speed up in-store shopping this year. 

Innovators gathered at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show this week to display new technologies aiming to bring business back to the retail sector. Big name stores including Walmart and Kroger are set to roll out some of these innovations in 2018. Kroger will be introducing digital smart shelves that will instantly update prices to keep a competitive edge over other retailers.

"The technology is more mature now, and these things are becoming easier to do," Target Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer Mike McNamara told CNBC about “smart-cart” technologies.

At the annual retail show, which took place in New York, company Five Elements Robotics introduced a robot shopping cart named "Dash" that hovers around stores. 

Walmart and Kroger are planning to help customers get out of the store quicker by testing "scan and go" options that allow shoppers to make purchases using their phones as they walk down the aisles. Target will be partnering Zebra, a company that sells scanning devices. Major competitor Amazon announced a similar checkout-free technology for its grocery stores in May 2017.

"The technology is more mature now, and these things are becoming easier to do," Target Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer Mike McNamara told CNBC about “smart-cart” technologies.

"Dash robotic shopping cart on display at NRF show. This integrates shopping list, travels to location of items, checks out and escorts to the parking lot. Can display ads, offers etc," Winsight Editor Jon Springer wrote in a Monday tweet that pictured the cart. 

Smart shelves will be rolled out as a part of Kroger Edge in 200 stores across the U.S. in 2018, Business Insider reported Tuesday. Kroger Chief Information Officer Chris Hjelm told the website that customers won't have to even scan shelves to find an elusive food item. 

"If you are looking for a particular bottle of wine, Edge will show it to you by highlighting it on the shelf," said Hjelm.

One of the show's participants of the conference, software corporation SAP, tweeted a video of futuristic technologies including foreseeing fridges and recipe robots. "With machine learning, IoT and augmented reality–the retail experience will never be the same. The future of retail is now," the company said Friday. 

 

Correction: This article has been corrected to clarify that Target is partnering with Zebra and is looking into “smart-cart” technologies.