British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s hopes to attract tech-savvy shoppers with shopping carts that boast a built-in iPad holder and speakers.
The company is testing the shopping carts at a single location in Kensington, West London. The carts feature a sensor that sounds a warning beep if a shopper gets too close to another customer and a solar-powered battery.
“Some younger or richer shoppers are moving toward digital shopping lists and it may be designed to attract those tech-friendly demographics,” said Neil Mawston, England-based director of global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics.
“An iPad cart enables ‘shoppertainment’ for a customer and it helps to differentiate Sainsbury’s from competitors like Tesco,” he said.
Sainsbury’s is one of the largest supermarket chains in Britain.
The shopping carts were developed by broadcaster Sky. IPad owners who are shopping in the Kensington store can use the docks to watch live sports or news via the broadcaster’s Sky Go service on their Apple tablets.
“Sky is using the iPad cart as an innovative marketing vehicle to promote its new live-sports service,” Mr. Mawston said.
The shopping carts could give supermarket brands a way to reach consumers when they are in the store and shopping.
The carts may also provide Sainsbury’s with a way to learn more about its shoppers in-store actions.
“Sainsbury’s may potentially wish to track for research the locations, movements and timings of its shoppers that presumably will stream the Sky broadcast over the in-store WiFi network,” Mr. Mawston said.
The primary audience for the high-tech shopping carts is likely to be young, well-to-do iPad owners, particularly males.
It is still unclear how other shoppers will react to the carts.
“Whether other shoppers will tolerate intrusive noises from the tablet’s speakers and the inevitable minor accidents caused by distracted cart-pushers remains to be seen,” Mr. Mawston said.
However, if the carts gain shopper approval, other retailers could follow suit.
“If the iPad cart opens up a fresh stream of advertising or cross-selling revenues without harming core shopping purchases, then we expect other retailers to do something similar,” Mr. Mawston said.
“But if shoppers get distracted by the tablet’s screen and they end up spending less on food and other goods, then we would expect the project to be quietly shelved — no pun intended,” he said.