Next time you’re in a grocery store, take a moment to look at all of the items lined up on the shelves around you. You’ll quickly notice that there are dozens of items on each shelf, and hundreds in a single aisle. In many stores, employees manually track inventory and identify out of stock items, incorrect prices and misplaced items.
Manual inventory checks can be tedious, time-consuming and employees can still miss items. Not to mention, this task pulls employees away from more important ones that require interacting with customers directly.
According to Simbe, a company developing robots for retail use, one in 10 products aren’t on retail shelves when they should be, and as much as two out of 10 items are priced incorrectly. This means that 20% of the time, customers grocery or drug stores without an item they needed.
Many of those customers aren’t making another trip to the store later. IHL Group found that over 24% of Amazon’s current retail revenue comes from customers who tried to buy a product in-store first.
Many grocery stores operate on thin margins, so every customer that walks away without an item they wanted makes a difference. This is especially true for a company like Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S.
Wakefern Food Corp. is made up of almost 50 member families that independently own and operate nearly 360 supermarkets. The company announced a pilot with Simbe to deploy its retail-robot, Tally, at Wakefern stores.
Simbe’s Tally autonomously navigates stores and collects shelf data using computer vision. The robot makes a pass around each aisle up to three times every day, and alerts retailers if there are any empty spots on shelves, misplaced items or wrong prices.
Tally can capture between 15,000 and 30,000 products an hour. The robot doesn’t require any infrastructure changes to begin working, and can be installed in just a day. Tally even self docks and charges itself when it needs. The robot is able to operate within normal store hours and alongside customers safely.
While we don’t know yet how Tally’s deployment at Wakefern Food Corp. stores will go, the change that Tally can bring is clear. Tally has traveled over 75,000 miles in-stores, operated for more than 300,000 hours fully autonomously and has analyzed more than three billion products and shelf tags.
Tally is able to locate 10 times more out of stock items than manual inventory checks, resulting in a 20% reduction in out-of-stock items. The robot has already been deployed at Hy-Vee stores.