- Instacart is working with hospitality provider Aramark Sports + Entertainment to deploy the e-commerce company's Caper Counter automated checkout technology at refreshment stands in Boston's Fenway Park, according to a press release on Wednesday.
- The companies will initially place three of the contactless payment terminals, which use computer vision to identify items, in the baseball stadium, and expect to install additional units at the sports venue "in the coming months," according to an Instacart spokesperson.
- The partnership with Aramark continues Instacart's diversification beyond its traditional business of providing online fulfillment services to grocery stores and other retailers.
Instacart's decision to place its automated checkout equipment in a sports facility gives it a foothold in a sector that could help the company gain ground as it deals with mounting competition in the retail technology space.
The Caper Counter is designed to permit shoppers to pay for purchases of small numbers of items in only a few seconds, making it a natural fit for high-volume retail facilities in crowded public settings where people are often in a hurry. The artificial intelligence-based system scans multiple items at once, adds them to an electronic cart and then charges the customer using a credit card or other payment method.
On average, the technology cuts transaction times by 65%, Instacart Vice President of Engineering Lindon Gao said in a statement.
Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, is adding the Caper Counters as part of the facility's transition away from accepting cash at concession counters.
Instacart acquired the technology last year when it bought Caper AI in a $350 million cash-and-stock deal. Caper AI, which introduced its Caper Counter in late 2020, also offers a smart cart that scans items and charges customers for purchases automatically.
Instacart offers the checkout devices to retailers as part of Instacart Platform, an array of services it announced in March that also includes 15-minute delivery using "nano-fulfillment centers," data insights and advertising solutions. The company unveiled the new offerings as it looks to augment its marketplace, which soared when the pandemic began and drove retailers to jump into e-commerce but has seen growth slow as shoppers return to stores.
In addition, Instacart faces stiff competition in its traditional business of providing e-commerce service to supermarket chains from other e-commerce companies, like DoorDash, Shipt and Uber.
Aramark's partnership with Instacart is part of a broader effort by the hospitality company to modernize concession stands it operates in sports facilities. The company also is working with Caper AI rival Mashgin as it looks to bring automated payment technology to venues. In addition, Aramark is adding self-service order kiosks from Tapin2 to four sports facilities, including Fenway Park, and will offer delivery service with Uber Eats at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Other retail technology suppliers are also looking to build a presence in entertainment facilities.
Amazon said last week that its Just Walk Out automated checkout technology is now in operation at two food and beverage stores in Minute Maid Park. Meanwhile, Standard AI, which also provides computer vision-based checkout technology to retailers, said last week that its equipment is in operation at a new store in American Airlines Center in Dallas and will also be in a second retail facility in the arena due to open later in April.
Correction: A previous headline misstated the checkout technology Caper AI is bringing to Fenway Park. It is the Caper Counter.