a group of people in a store

Why Is There a Robot in My Store?

Robots are no longer science-fiction fantasies. On the contrary, they have already transformed supply chain operations in many retail warehouses and distribution centers. Entering the store is the next logical step and for some retailers it is happening today.

Major robot in-store tests are currently in the field and include such leading retailers as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Giant and Schnucks.

So, as we rapidly approach the dawn of the robot-in-store age, it is clearly time for the retail industry to sit down and finally have the “robot in my store” conversation.

For those attending the NRF Big Show next week in New York, this conversation will take place on Monday, January 14, at 1:00 pm. The location will be the Innovation Stage on Level 4 in the Jacob Javits Center and I will be moderating the session.

Joining me on stage will be an outstanding panel of experts including: Nick Bertram (President, Giant Foods), Tim Rowland (CEO, Badger Technologies) and Steven Platt (Research Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University).

Key points of discussion will include:

  • Hype: We know that robots are playing a big role in warehouses, but are robots in stores today mostly hype, science fiction, and not ready for real-world adoption?
  • Marty the robot currently roams the aisles of Giant Food Stores. What exactly does Marty do? What is its duty cycle, how long has it been deployed, what is the overall robot strategy?
  • System and maintenance requirements: How long can a robot work between charges? Who in the store is responsible for it? What system requirements and/or equipment need to be added to stores? Who or what does the robot connect to and communicate with? What happens with all the data it collects?
  • When a robot roams the aisles during open hours, how will it intersect with customers? What operational challenges does that represent and how are they being addressed?
  • What have been typical customer reactions to robots in stores? Any specific issues or concerns that need to be addressed?
  • What are typical store associate reactions to robots in stores? Will robots take away store jobs and, if so, how do associates feel about that?
  • What is the range of near-future functions that robots can and will do in stores?
  • ROI: Robots are not cheap and their functionality, while progressing, is limited today. Can we plan on achieving ROI for robots in stores today or is that a future expectation?

Many of us have great childhood images and memories of robots in movies and TV shows. Join me for this timely discussion to examine how the real-world evolution of robots in stores will unfold.

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