Smart trolleys to help avoid in-store queues?

Shopping trolleys fitted with sensors and Bluetooth smart technology have been developed with the aim of enhancing the in-store shopping experience.

The technology, pioneered by product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants, informs retailers of a shopper’s location in real time and to within one metre. The device fits on the wheel of each trolley, and it doesn’t need batteries as it is powered via energy harvesting from the rotation of the wheel.

Cambridge Consultants says costs are kept to a minimum by using commercially available low-cost sensors and connectivity that allows the data to be managed on a hosted server. Businesses can use the data to analyse shopping behaviour.

It is also suggested that the technology could help spell the end of queues as it can be used to alert staff when customers are nearing checkouts, allowing them to automatically allocate assistants when they are needed most. There is also the potential to use the technology for trolley theft prevention purposes.

The trolley can interact directly with the customer during a shopping trip to pass on discount vouchers based on where they are in the supermarket, as well as mapping out the most efficient route through a store, based on each customer’s pre-loaded shopping list.

Dipak Raval, a commercial director at Cambridge Consultants, said: “Customers are increasingly frustrated by queueing times in stores – and often reluctant to download apps in order to get the best out of their shopping experience.

“Our low-cost technology is easily combined with existing retail equipment to improve efficiency for both the retailer and the customer. This is the latest example of our work in the fields of connected devices, data analytics and integrated systems across a range of sectors and with clients around the world.”

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