By Aimee Chanthadavong

First there was the evolution of self-service checkout systems in our supermarkets and now a technology is being trialled in hope that it will change the way retailers communicate with shoppers.

Introduced by VIP Retail, VIP Trolley is a computerised shopping trolley, with an LCD screen and control panel, which enables retailers to deliver targeted communication at the point-of-purchase and streamline store operations.

General manager Nathan Dunn told Retailbiz that VIP Retail is the Australian and New Zealand licensee for the system, which was initially launched in the US by Mediacart.

“The concept was devised in the US about five years ago. Like any new technology, the first version was trialled in a few supermarket and they got a few results both from shoppers who saw it as being valuable and from the retailers,” he said.

“So now we have exclusive rights throughout and New Zealand and since September, when we first launched the trolley, we’ve spent time refining and localising it.”

The trolley has the functionality of knowing where a shopper is within a supermarket and is able to find any products in the store. It also uses an infrared scanner to provide product price checks as well as allows shoppers to keep track of how much they have spent. Additionally, shoppers have access to view in-store specials, browse through recipe ideas.

“Our trolleys have live access to a store’s check-out system and effectively you can scan while you shop and it gives you an accurate tally of how much you’ve spent. So this will mean shoppers won’t get a shock when they arrive at the check-out counter,” Dunn said.

“It’s a great value-added service. It also does supermarkets to empower the shopper leaving the staff in the store left to their job without distractions.”

The system is currently being trialled by two independent retailers – Supa IGA Delahay in Melbourne and Supa IGA Hawker in the ACT. There are also plans to launch a third trial in another Supa IGA store in Melbourne.

“It’s going really well. It’s a learning curve for everyone. It’s about the hardware and the software and that’s been performing really well. It’s been a great opportunity to test it in live supermarkets. As far as hoppers are concerned a lot of blown away technology,” Dunn said.

VIP Retail plans to roll out a national network of independent supermarkets during the year.

“We’ve received interest from over 200 stores but it’s more about being selective about the roll-out. However, we have intentions to have the trolleys operating in 15 stores by the end of the year.”