Inventory management remains a high priority, and high value challenge for retailers. It was in November, 2020, when Walmart ended the contract with inventory scanning robot provider Bossa Nova. Most industry watchers were shocked by this development and wondered if Walmart would ever pursue robotic inventory scanning again in the future.
Walmart never communicated publicly why it chose to end the relationship with Bossa Nova. The company went back to manual inventory management practices after ending the Bossa Nova pilot project.
Sam’s Club is the membership warehouse division of the Walmart brand. Sam’s Club presents a different shopping experience than shoppers might find in a neighborhood Walmart store.
The store layout is different in a typical Walmart store from that in a Sam’s Club warehouse. In a Sam’s Club, the aisles are wider, there are fewer product SKU’s on the floor, and product is arranged on pallets – rather than singulated on store shelves.
Imaging product on pallets presents a different challenge for automated inventory management from imaging on retail store shelves.
Sam’s Club is undergoing a chain-wide rollout of an inventory scanning feature that will be added to existing Brain Corp-powered floor scrubbing robots. The Tennant flooring scrubbing robots, powered by Brain Corp have already proven their value, and gained acceptance within Sam’s Club for their daily floor cleaning operations.
“Sam’s Club is hyper-focused on making sure our members have a seamless shopping experience, so any time-saving innovation we can implement is significant. By adding Inventory Scan to our current fleet of robotic scrubbers, we obtain critical inventory data that previously was time-consuming to obtain,” said Todd Garner, VP of In-Club Product Management at Sam’s Club. “This intelligence allows us to proactively manage our clubs in an efficient manner. Inventory Scan assures items are available and easy to locate in the club, freeing up time for our associates to focus on members and the shopping experience they deserve.”
Once installed on the scrubber, the new, cloud-connected Inventory Scan tower is able to capture data as it moves autonomously around the club. Reports are then delivered to the club managers that provide numerous insights including: verification of pricing accuracy, planogram compliance, product stock levels and product localization. Each function negates the need for time consuming and manual processes, reducing waste and inventory loss.
“This latest iteration of our valued and longstanding partnership with Sam’s Club marks the beginning of realizing the next phase in our company’s vision,” said Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, CEO of Brain Corp. “We are actively taking BrainOS-powered robots from primarily task-oriented machines, to in-store data acquisition platforms, able to deliver actionable insights on inventory availability, planogram compliance and more. This adds significant ROI for retailers.”
Brain Corp has built out one of the worlds largest robotic fleets of autonomous mobile robots, through its relationship with Tennant floor scrubbers and other floor scrubbing machine builders. The company has deployed 1000’s of robots over the past 5 years, and recently pasted the milestone of cleaning over 100 billion square feet of floors.
By combining the inventory capability with a floor scrubbing robot, the return on investment becomes greater for Sam’s Club. The efficiency of both the inventory management process and the floor maintenance processes are both improved. This solution is a very effective combination of use cases into a single platform.