Toys "R" Us is looking for back-end and front of store help from robots.
According to Bloomberg News, the toy store chain opened a new distribution center last month near Reno, NV that makes extensive use of robots to help fulfill online orders on the same day they are received.
Company CEO Jerry Storch said that a growing number of the chain's customers are placing orders online and via mobile devices. That, he said, means "we need to look at the online store and the brick-and-mortar stores the same."
Speaking of various sales channels for retailers, Toys "R" Us also announced that it will be looking to boost its top line sales this holiday season with a mini robot called My Keepon.
The product, which was originally developed as a form of therapy for autistic children, will be sold exclusively by Toys "R" Us beginning sometime in October.
The 10-inch robot is said to be a dancing fiend."When you see it rocking out, you just can't help but love it," Richard Barry, a vice-president at Toys "R" Us, told Bloomberg Businessweek.
In 2007, a YouTube video of Keepon dancing to Turn My Camera On by Spoon went viral with over 2.6 million plays.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, My Keepon comes in touch and dance modes. In touch, it responds by turning, wiggling, popping up and down or sneezing. Its reactions vary depending on how it is touched. In dance, its moves vary according to the tempo of the song.
The robot's various responses are meant to keep it from becoming repetitive, as seen in other types of response toys. Toys "R" Us plans to retail My Keepon for under $50.
How much of the workload in retail distribution centers will be handled by robots in the future?