A young Indian engineer has designed the supermarket trolley of the future, equipped with a range of functions to create an interactive shopping experience.

Upgrading the Shopping Experience with a Smart Trolley

Digital technology at the point of sale is now a reality, and the smartphone has practically become an extension of the body for so many people who cannot bear to be separated from their mobile device. Some time ago L’Atelier reported on a study which forecast that smartphones would become the key tool used by shoppers as they move around inside the store. A couple of years down the road, this trend has really caught on and such innovative initiatives as the connected shopping mall have begun to emerge. Now Bhargav Sridhar, an engineering student at a university in the Indian city of Bangalore, has just won the prize for the ‘Best Innovation in the Retail category’ at the Innovation Jockeys Season 2 contest sponsored by Accenture and Yahoo, which rewards ‘India’s Most Innovative Minds across Campuses’. He carried off the prize with his design for KART, the shopping cart of tomorrow, which is intended to help provide a smoother, more enjoyable in-store shopping experience.  As Pierre Bosche, the then Technology Financial Services Managing Director at Accenture, predicted back in 2007, the smart trolley is now at hand.

Multiple functionality carts

The smart cart designed by 21-year old student Bhargav Sridhar is a new-generation shopping trolley. It has a screen on which you can track how your purchases are mounting up as you move through the store, and as you are pushing the cart it will synchronise with your smartphone to allow you to see what remains on your shopping list and spot any useful promotions on offer. Meanwhile an RFID reader will scan your items, enabling you to pay for them directly, without having to queue up at the checkout. The trolley will also be equipped with a set of scales to weigh your fresh food purchases. In fact smart carts do already exist, one example being the Wind cart from French company Caddie, which allows you to scan your purchase items yourself and visualise your journey through the store via a touchscreen and integrated GPS functionality.

Keeping your purchases and your bill under control

KART goes a step beyond these options, really placing the user at the centre of things. “When I recently went to a supermarket to buy groceries, I had to stand in a long queue to pay, which resulted in an unpleasant shopping experience. Searching for the products across the aisles and trying to remember my shopping list was also a problem. I also realised that there was a tremendous possibility for in-store marketing and advertisements. KART was born as a solution to these,” explains Bhargav Sridhar. Having tapped in a shopping list on to his/her smartphone, the customer will then be able to synchronise the mobile device with the screen on the trolley. S/he will be in complete control of the shopping experience as the RFID reader will allow the customer to pay directly and thus avoid queuing up at the checkout.  Sridhar says he gets a great buzz out of providing innovative solutions to existing problems so as to increase user satisfaction. Currently in his final year at the Visvesvaraya Technological University in Bangalore, he intends to focus entirely on developing his KART after completing his studies. At the moment he is in fact working on another project to create a search engine for finding infographics and diagrams online.

By Eliane HONG