TECHNOLOGY

More robots rolling down the aisles at Schnucks

BY Marianne Wilson

Now in aisle five at select Schnucks Markets, “Tally,” a shelf-scanning robot.

The family-owned supermarket retailer announced that it is rolling out Simbe Robotics’ autonomous shelf-scanning robots (called Tally) in at least 15 select Schnucks’ stores. Schnucks and Simbe kicked off a pilot at three Schnucks locations in July 2017, which has allowed the chain to capture deeper, real-time insights into on-shelf operations. As a result of the pilot’s success, Schnucks is expanding its use of the robot to the additional locations.

In its current deployment, Tally robots in Schnucks stores traverse the floors three times per day, scanning approximately 35,000 products per sweep. By increasing to at least 15 stores, in an average day the Tally robots will scan over 1.5 million products, giving Schnucks more accurate, frequent, and comprehensive insights into product flow and in-store operations, the company said.

The robot is fully autonomous, meaning it safely navigates around aisles and shoppers, and returns to its charging dock all on its own, without any human intervention.

“Tally has been instrumental in boosting the way our shelves are managed and how our stores function,” said Dave Steck, Schnucks VP of IT – Infrastructure and Application Development. “As a result of working with Simbe, we’ve experienced a phenomenon we call ‘The Tally Effect,’ an immediate improvement in in-store operations and increased teammates productivity.”

Currently, Schnucks associates several hours a week completing such mundate tasks as inventory scanning and price tag auditing. But since the chain deployed Simbe’s Tally, the robot now completes those tasks, allowing the employees to focus on customer service, explained Steck.

“We have confidence that with Simbe, our stores will run more smoothly and customers will continue to have exceptional, and modern, shopping experiences,” he said.

Specifically, the robot:

• Conducts autonomous product audits, allowing store teammates to better serve customers;
• Provides timely alerts for out-of-stock, low stock, and misplaced items;
• Ensures price tag updates are expedited to reflect price adjustments and promotions;
• Delivers continuous in-store performance insights for brand and retail service partners; and
• Optimizies product location to create a more organized shopping flow and efficient planogram that works in concert with other technology.

Schnucks operates 118 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

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TECHNOLOGY

Walmart customers won’t get stuck on long checkout lines this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is banking on a mobile line busting solution, digital maps, and other new enhancements to lure shoppers this holiday season.

Walmart on Tuesday unveiled a multi-pronged strategy that will enable store-level shoppers to digitally interact with its brand this holiday season. For example, starting Nov. 1, Walmart associates will use mobile devices and Bluetooth printers to check out customers, and provide them with a receipt on the spot.

The Check Out With Me solution, which launched in 350 stores’ Lawn & Garden Centers this spring, enables Walmart shoppers to bypass regular checkout lines, and pay for merchandise right in the department they are shopping in. These mobile-armed associates will be positioned in the busiest areas of the stores, according to a blog on the company’s website.

To make it easier for shoppers to find merchandise this holiday season, Walmart will offer store digital maps that are unique to each Walmart store. As customers launch the Walmart mobile app in store or at home, they can search for an item, and the map will show the product’s exact location. New in-store signage will also help customers quickly orient themselves within the store. The maps will be available in all stores in early November.

This holiday season also marks the first for Walmart’s redesigned website. Among the new services they can use include curated and editorial content that will make assortments more discoverable. Content will also be delivered in new ways, including through gift guides, and a “new deals” hub that will be refreshed regularly. Category shopping destinations will also deliver holiday-specific experiences.

The digital enhancements come on the heels of Walmart’s previously announced holiday initiatives. For example, the discount giant is making “millions of items” sold on its marketplace eligible for free two-day shipping on orders over $35. The service, which does not require a membership, will launch in mid-November.

This is in addition to the to more than two million items sold online that are also eligible for free shipping when orders surpass $35. No membership fee applies.

Walmart is also expanding its toy assortment by 30% in stores and by 40% online this year, and both offerings include “hundreds of new exclusive toys,” according to the company.

Walmart’s other holiday initiatives include hosting 19,000 in-store events and demonstrations that enable customers to “test” specific products, and take pictures with Santa, among other attractions. The events, which will be ongoing between Nov. 3 and Dec. 24, will be complemented by digital content from online influencers.

“Every day we’re committed to providing customers with the broadest assortment of quality products at great prices, but, during the holidays, we take that promise up a notch,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S.

“This Christmas [there are] more items than ever before and new brands that customers will be surprised to see from us, all at the prices they expect from Walmart,” he added. “And, with new convenient ways to buy, we’ve never been in a better position to help our customers deliver for their families…”

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TECHNOLOGY

HGTV’s “Property Brothers” throw their hats into the e-retailing ring

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Two of the most popular stars on cable television now have their own online marketplace.

The Scott brothers, the stars of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” have launched an e-commerce site that features merchandise that customers can use to “renovate and rejuvenate” their space. The site, called Casaza, features curated collections from a variety of companies.

Casaza is led by a team of executives from companies including Amazon, HomeAway from Expedia, Farfetch, Microsoft, Net a Porter, TripAdvisor, and Gilt Groupe. Unlike other pure play marketplaces where goods are simply bought or sold, Casaza’s curated experience is designed to engage visitors with quality content. Supplier partners can use the site to complement or expand their existing e-commerce presence, as well as to increase their reach, according to the company’s website.

To further make the opportunity worth their while, supplier partners only pay when an item is ordered on the site, the site revealed.

The new marketplace comes on the heels of the Scott brothers’ new deal with Kohl’s to launch a home lifestyle collection. The line, called Scott Living, will be available at Kohl’s for fall 2019, both in stores and online. The collection will feature modern home basics, including furniture, décor, bedding and bath, and more.

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