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The future of groceries is… groceries?

Delivery pioneers Instacart and Amazon are eyeing shopping carts — physical ones.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Yesterday, Instacart expanded “the future of grocery” to mean a lot more than helping gig workers schlep around milk.

The company announced…

… Connected Stores, a tech suite to seamlessly bridge its operations software with new in-store products like:

  • Caper Cart: a cart with scales, sensors, and a screen so shoppers can order, navigate, and check out from the cart.
  • Carrot Tags: e-ink price tags with QR codes and LEDs for easy spotting.

You can see how some of this works in this clip from a very real looking store.

The company is far from the first to try its hand at smart cart gadgets and clever in-store gizmos, but they do have the full-service platform to create a great experience for both shoppers and retailers.

Where’s this all headed?

But of course, where all mass market tributaries flow — Amazon.

Amazon’s foray into food extends beyond its $13.7B acquisition of Whole Foods and deep into the shopping experience, delivery, and payments.

There’s also Swiftly, which raised $100m yesterday and offers an app building service for brick-and-mortar grocery stores that’s used by 10% of the US market.

Big picture: Instacart and Amazon, who pioneered online shopping in their own ways, are bullish on a future where you still hold your breath walking past the seafood counter.

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