Wegmans testing smart shopping carts to replace SCAN app
Wegmans customers loved its SCAN self-checkout app that allowed them to scan their groceries as they shopped, and were bummed when a high theft rate caused the company to discontinue it.
Now, the grocer is piloting a new system that would allow customers' shopping carts to do the scanning for them – and hopefully do a better job of keeping shoplifters at bay.
The Alberta Drive and Pittsford stores are testing Shopic, a "frictionless" shopping system that uses artificial intelligence to keep track of what customers put in their shopping carts.
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The rectangular device clips to the top of a shopping cart and bears a long bar that is equipped with cameras and sensors. Shoppers bag items as they shop, while the computer identifies and logs each product, giving a running price total and making adjustments as products are removed.
Smart Shopping Cart is an early stage technology, and Wegmans is in the early stages of its own test program.
"We recently selected customers to test the new technology as we take an iterative approach and focus on gathering feedback from a small group of customers," said Michele Mehaffy, a Wegmans spokesperson.
Smart Shopping Cart does not yet have heat mapping or the ability to scan multiple items at once.
Israeli startup Shopic said its technology can help with inventory out-of-stocks and supply chain issues, increase sales via personalized onscreen advertising, reduce labor costs and track shopper preferences.
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Bender's Christian Store will close after 70 years
In 1953, Jean Bender and her Mennonite husband, Richard, started Bender's Christian Bookstore in their Williamsville living room with two bookshelves and $500 worth of books.
Now, her family is liquidating what has grown to a sprawling 13,500 square feet of books, decor, gifts and merchandise.
The store had struggled to stay afloat in the internet age, with streaming sites killing its music sales and Amazon killing its book sales. The company diversified to sell things like jewelry, toys and home decor, but changing consumer habits and pressure from the web and big boxes proved too great.
Second-generation owner Arden Bender, who has managed the store since 1991, said he is ready to retire. Merchandise is being sold for a discount. Fixtures and furniture are for sale, as well.
"The costs of operating the business continue to increase while sales decrease. We hated to come to this decision, but the reality of a harsh economy and customers and churches migrating their business to online retailers have crippled the brick-and-mortar stores, such as Bender's," the company said in a letter to customers.
Over the years, the store was named Bender's Books, Bender's Christian Supplies and Bender's Christian Store. It moved to its current location on Sheridan Drive in Amherst in 1985.
Ski magazine names Ellicottville shop tops
Ski magazine has given top honors to an Ellicottville ski shop, naming Mud, Sweat n' Gears on Monroe Street the No. 1 bootfitter in the East, as chosen by gear testers, ski instructors and ski industry professionals.
"Custom bootfitting is a point of pride at Mud, Sweat n’ Gears,” co-owner Kimberly Reading said.
The company has a second store on Main Street in East Aurora.
“Western New York, especially the Rochester area where I live, is a tough market for bootfitting," said Chad Jacob, a race coach and Ski magazine gear tester, who said customers frequently drive hours to schedule a fitting with co-owner Miguel Azcarate. "Miguel is amazing. I send all my race athletes to him, and it’s not uncommon for him to spend hours with a customer."
"They do it all and are reasonably priced," he added.
Aldi to open in Orchard Park
Aldi will open in Orchard Park this summer. The store is currently under construction at 3330 Orchard Park Road.
The community lost one grocer when Orchard Fresh – Tops' high-end experiment – closed during the pandemic. Aldi, a no-frills, deep discounter, does business at the other end of the spectrum.
Aldi has roughly 20 locations in Western New York.
Catch up on the latest news from the Buffalo Niagara economy:
Greenlight Networks is expanding its broadband service to North Tonawanda.
A Domino's franchise operator was sued by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission over alleged use of racial slurs by employees.
Developer Douglas Jemal is getting ready to start work on the renovation of the historic Meidenbauer House in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.
A federal judge declined to lift an injunction that is blocking the state from issuing licenses to operate legal cannabis stores in five regions, including Western New York.
Moog Inc. is planning a big expansion at its Elma campus.
Neighbors are pushing back on a $20 million proposal to build 142 apartments, homes and town houses off of Transit Road in Clarence.
The developer planning to expand the McCarley Gardens low-income housing complex is sparring with its neighbors at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
A $10 million grant will help expand access to 'clean mobility' options for residents of East Buffalo.
Water damage from the December blizzard forced SUNY-Erie Community College to make big changes at its city campus.
A Cleveland auto dealer's plans for a car lot across for the Tesla plant in Buffalo are being scaled back a little.
Two state Legislators are criticizing tax breaks granted to a pair of fast-food restaurant projects in Niagara Falls.
A new solar farm is in the works for Amherst.
The Bethune Lofts condo conversion project in Buffalo has begun.
A new townhouse development is in the works for Springville.
A top Buffalo Sabres executive has departed after the hiring of a new chief operating officer.
A Buffalo laboratory won approval from the state to perform cannabis testing.
22nd Century Group is buying a cannabis business in the United Kingdom.
Tesla provided the latest update on its solar energy business and its Buffalo factory.
Hilbert College is buying a small, career-focused college with campuses in West Virginia and Ohio.
Norstar Development is selling its small downtown headquarters building.
Want to buy an elementary school? The City of Tonawanda school district is selling two of them.
Amherst snack maker Mister Snacks is being acquired by a Pennsylvania company that is shutting down its local operations.
TopSeedz and Linita Design are each in line for $750,000 in low-interest loans from an affiliate of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
If it wasn't bad enough that a suspicious fire caused extensive damage to the former Buffalo Grand Hotel more than a year ago, now water damage caused during the blizzard is making things worse.
Evergreen Health is planning to expand in East Buffalo.
The Village of Lancaster is getting $4.5 million in state funds for downtown revitalization efforts.
The details are starting to come out about a new Buffalo Bills stadium deal.
Five reads from Buffalo Next:
1. The Buffalo Sabres are in the thick of a playoff chase for the first time in a decade and fans are slowly starting to return to the KeyBank Center, where attendance is way up from last year, but empty seats remain plentiful.
2. The cannabis industry is starting to establish itself in Western New York, but companies in that sector have to be careful about actually using the word, cannabis, because it's still illegal on the federal level.
3. The Baxter plant in Medina is a linchpin of the Orleans County economy, with 270 employees making tens of thousands of medical pumps each year.
4. Niagara University grows food marketing program with 'who’s who' of industry leaders: Western New York has some 1,200 companies involved in food manufacturing, distribution, retailing and/or warehousing, putting it in the top five markets for the industry nationally, according to Niagara’s Food Marketing Center of Excellence.
5. Why Buffalo Niagara's labor shortage is still the biggest factor behind sluggish hiring: The Labor Department reported the region added 1,800 jobs during December – a tepid increase that, if it continued, would mean it will be another 14 months before the region regains all its lost jobs.
The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach Buffalo Next Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.
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