Giant Food Stores which is owned by Ahold-Delhaize, was the first retailer to execute in store service robots that communicates issues to consumers in efforts to create a safe and clean environment. So how is this done? Ultimately, artificial intelligence is utilized, creating a computer vision, to pilot, sense and gauge reactions, basically deep learning.
loT, the internet of things (loT) is a term used to describe collaborating the power of the internet, analytics and data processing of physical objects to both send and receive data. Some categories that fall under this umbrella include, distribution, transportation, healthcare and more recently retail. As of this year, (2020), there are more than 50 billion loT devices, which generate 4.4 zettabytes of data. I don’t know about you, but I never even heard of a zettabyte! A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes! And is expected to grow, as history has shown.
Currently, the ultimate goal of AI in retail, is to create an enhanced B2C interaction, by focusing on digitization by personalizing the customer experience. These unique experiences allow retailers to close the gap between in store and on-line sales channels. However, having a robot in store calling out areas that need attention isn’t nearly enough.
The real benefit of having robots in retail is the ability to capture more granular data about customer buying behaviors, on shelf inventory which can educate retailers on inventory management. Not only is this important because it allows associates to focus more on customer service, but it also provides retailers with a holistic view of what customers couldn’t purchase but wanted to, having more attention placed on out of stock items tells the retailers what customers want. The advantage here is avoiding those inventory issues which is basically additional income to be earned, lost money if you will. It also causes loyal shoppers frustration when going to the store and not being able to find the item they are looking for, so there is a chance they can lose that shopper loyalty as well.
In order for retailers, to stay on top of this emerging technology, they must prioritize business processes and strategies that are dependent of AI, especially now given the current pandemic. And some retailers are already taking initiative, such as Walmart, who will be enhancing their AI offerings, by having these robots work in production lines scanning on shelf inventory as well as sorting out deliveries. Even some Albertson’s stores are joining the game by testing their robots to execute their customer’s on-line shopping list. Retailers are taking advantage of this pandemic, by concentrating on learning more and testing robotics to stay in the game.
As retailers are advancing, I can’t help but wonder how it will affect my friendly cashier John at my local Giant.
- Forgan, B. (2020) What Robots Can Do for Retail- Harvest Business Review.org
- Fruhllinger, J. (2019). What is IoT? The internet of things explained. Network World
- Myersohn, N. (2020). Grocery stores turn to robots during the corona virus. CNN Business
- (2019, October 10). Who is Marty the Robot and why do we need retail service robots? https://www.robotics.org/blog-article.cfm/Who-is-Marty-the-Robot-and-Why-Do-We-Need-Retail-Service-Robots/208