November 28, 2022

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Smart shopping-cart startup Veeve’s new device gives regular carts a high-tech upgrade – GeekWire

Smart-shopping cart company Veeve is coming out with a new product that attaches to regular carts, turning them into smart carts. (Veeve Photo)

Seattle startup Veeve is expanding its checkout-free, smart shopping-cart technology from grocery stores to big-box retailers with a new attachment that effectively turns regular shopping carts into smart carts.

Veeve was founded in 2018 by two former Amazon managers. It’s one of numerous tech startups looking to help retailers keep up with high-tech retail checkout trends, as Amazon pushes ahead with its own efforts to streamline and eliminate the traditional checkout process in physical retail stores

Veeve’s technology detects and scans items as they’re put into a cart, and keeps a running tally on a built-in display, with a payment system that lets shoppers avoid checkout lines, without using a separate app.

The company’s first product was a full smart cart, built from the ground up.

Veeve’s new device, to be announced this week at the Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas, attaches to the top of regular shopping carts, near the handle, with a built-in display facing the shopper, and sensors inside.

The company will sell the new product in addition to its full smart cart, which has a built-in scale at the bottom to determine the price of produce and other items sold by weight in grocery stores. The lack of a need for that scale in big-box stores opened the possibility of converting regular carts instead, said Shariq Siddiqui, Veeve CEO and co-founder.

Veeve CEO Shariq Siddiqui. (Veeve Photo)

Other than the absence of a scale, the technology in the new Veeve attachment is the same as in the full cart, using sensor fusion and computer vision to detect barcodes on products placed into a regular cart, Siddiqui said.

It will fit almost all shopping carts, he said, in some cases using a base unit that attaches to the cart.

Amazon announced a new version of its Amazon Dash smart shopping cart in July, saying it plans to start rolling out the Dash 2 to Whole Foods Market stores. That indicates it’s cost-prohibitive to convert existing stores with the overhead cameras, sensors and in-shelf scales required for the Amazon Go “Just Walk Out” technology, Siddiqui said.

In addition to Amazon moving the overall market forward, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the demand to check out without human interaction. Both factors have been “strong tailwinds” for Veeve’s business, Siddiqui said.

Veeve says customers using its carts buy twice as much as those using self-checkout stations. That has been the biggest driver of the company’s business, Siddiqui said.

The company charges a monthly per-cart software-as-a-service (SaaS) fee. The privately held startup doesn’t disclose revenue or profits. It has been testing ads on cart screens and plans to integrate with existing retail media networks.

The use of computer vision means Veeve’s technology can detect items that haven’t been properly scanned, taking a short video clip of a product going into the cart and asking the customer to rescan before they check out using the cart. That minimizes the type of loss that caused grocery chain Wegmans to axe its basic scan-and-go app, for example.

Veeve in May announced a deal to put its full smart carts in some Albertsons stores in the United States.

Overall, Veeve smart carts are currently deployed at four retail chains in six U.S. states, with multiple stores at each chain, averaging about 10-15 carts per store, Siddiqui said.

So far, he said, two stores are slated to launch the new “Plug & Play Model 2” shopping-cart attachment, one in the fourth quarter of this year and another in the first quarter of next year.

The 15-person company has raised about $5 million in funding. Seattle-based Flying Fish Partners is Veeve’s primary investor. Veeve co-founder Umer Sadiq is now CTO at e-commerce infrastructure company Fabric, led by another Amazon veteran, Faisal Masud. Sadiq is still a Veeve advisor, investor, and board member.