Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
|Robots in Retail
The Pandemic showed everyone the need for accurate inventory
counts in retail stores.
Manny Mandrusiak CD.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a complete fixation
on sparkling water, and my wife and I go through at least 6 liters a day. That being said, I’m a huge believer in
comparing prices between retailers to save money where I can.
I was in one of my local Wal-Mart stores last week shopping
for water and I noticed that there were technicians installing what looked like
either cameras or sensors in the water aisle.
I decided to be “that person” who has to ask what is being
installed so that I can attempt to figure out how it works.
I was chatting with an Associate and he mentioned that the
things being installed were indeed cameras that have the job of keeping track
of inventory on the shelves. (Little
known Manny fact. I worked at a Wal-Mart for a year and a half as a second job
when I was in my early freelance days).
My mind raced back to when I used to have to do “picks” from
store shelves. Essentially part of the
job was to go out on the floor and count how much actual product was on the
shelves so that I could input the data into an aging system called Gemini. My inputted numbers would then produce what
we called a “pick list” for the night crew so that they could restock the
shelves at night, and so that the department manager could send supply requests
to the main warehouse for resupply.
These devices made complete sense to me as during the recent
pandemic we all had to deal with empty shelves due to supply shortages. I could easily see how these cameras could
help Wal-Mart stay ahead of product shortages through a faster rate of
streaming data. More data means a better
opportunity to see trends and predict the demand for products by
consumers. This would ultimately give
department manager’s the ability to more accurately predict what they need, and
hopefully receive messages in real-time about upcoming product shortages.
As I was “geeking” out about the camera wondering how the
systems were constructed the Associate that I was speaking to mentioned, “We’re
almost at the point where we can have Tally come and work in the store”. Tally?
Who was this Tally that he speaks of?
I had no idea.
It turns out that Tally is a robot that has been developed
by Simbe Robotics to integrate into retail environments and eliminate the
mundane task of inventory control. Having done the job of counting products on
the shelf, this robot made complete sense to me.
It also occurred to me that the recent pandemic may have
demonstrated the robot’s value as there were several times that I saw examples
of “panic buying” in retail stores.
I can appreciate the value of having accurate consistent
data during the recent pandemic as retailers were no doubt trying to overcome
the product shortages. We all know that
North Americans are not used to the product shortages that were seen during the
That also got me thinking that as global climates are
changing inventory control robots would be a huge benefit in combating
potential food shortages by giving food retailers the data needed to source
products from different areas to maintain their full shelves.
Technology continues to pop up everywhere in our lives, and
I’m always excited to see what new ideas I will see in action next.
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