A family-owned grocery chain in the Midwest is set to test an aisle-roving robot, joining technology-savvy retail behemoths like Amazon and Walmart.
The robot, named Tally, will begin scanning store aisles at three St. Louis-area Schnucks grocery stores in a six-week pilot program starting on Monday. The robot will check aisles three times a day to look for out-of-stock items and make sure items and price tags properly correspond, company officials say.
“We’re excited to see what this partnership brings,” Dave Steck, the chain’s vice president of IT and infrastructure, said in a statement on its collaboration with San Francisco-based Simbe Robotics. “This is just one of many ways that Schnucks is staying at the forefront of technology to enhance our customers’ shopping experiences.”
Schnucks — which operates more than 100 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa — will initially use the adjustable 38-inch, 30-pound robot to monitor items on store shelves but is hopeful that the robot “may open up a world of other possibilities” with the data it collects, Steck said.
The robots are the first test of the technology in Missouri and could expand to other Schnucks locations, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Simbe CEO Brad Bogolea told the newspaper that the robot’s ability to find items that need to be restocked and pricing errors allows employees to focus on other tasks. The robot has already been scanning aisles in other stores across the country, including some Target stores in San Francisco last year.
“The goal of Tally is to create more of a feedback mechanism,” Bogolea told the newspaper. “Although most retailers have good supply chain intelligence, and point-of-sale data on what they’ve sold, what’s challenging for retailers is understanding the true state of merchandise on shelves. Everyone sees value in higher quality, more frequent information across the entire value chain.”