Retail Robots Emerge from Behind the Scenes

The retail robotics market space is entering an exciting time of design innovation. What kinds of jobs might a retail robot perform? Would they greet you with a smile when you walk in the door? Probably not. It’s much more likely their facial recognition routines will have already “greeted” you when you entered the parking lot. Will they help you pick out a thoughtful Christmas gift for your sister-in-law? No, leave that kind kind of distinctly human expertise to the skilled salespeople in your local boutiques. Early robotic retail technology will focus on the needs of superstore scale operations. Some of these needs will be as old as commerce — sweeping the floors, counting stock — but with a robot’s gift for data collection and computational analysis, routine operations will be optimized to a degree never seen before. Picture autonomous vehicles robot roving up and down the aisles while scanning shelves. Nearly simultaneously, that data will be reconciled against numerous inventory tracking databases. A simple check against expected stock levels will be compared to real time sales data, with the corresponding rate of deviation used to improve shelf space allocation, loss prevention, shrinkage, and so on. Superstore scale operations have been using data-driven, real time analysis for the past 20 years. Robots represent the promise of faster data flow and improved data fidelity. Pretty cool,huh?

Warehouse robotics have been proven effective behind the scenes. Emerging technology developer Bossa Nova is pushing to introduce robotic clerks into your shopping experience. Bossa Nova recently announced a partnership with Walmart, which plans to start using these robots at 50 pilot stores. Next time you’re shopping for household commodities, be on the lookout for new age stockbots. They’ll look something like what’s shown in this cool proof-of-concept demo video: