Can robots keep shelves stocked at Schnucks?
Schnuck Markets, the 100-store supermarket chain based in St. Louis, announced it will run a six-week pilot program at three locations to test robots that will move up and down store aisles to make sure shelves remain properly stocked. The robots will also scan shelves to make sure that each item is in its proper place, aligned with the correct shelf tag.
The robots, which will be deployed three times a day (morning, afternoon and night), will send real-time information to store associates, helping them keep shelves stocked for customers. Each unit, named Tally by the manufacturer, Simbe Robotics, stands 38 inches high and weighs about 30 pounds. The devices use sensors to navigate around the store. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the units are programmed to avoid busy aisles and stop moving if a customer approaches.
Dave Steck, vice president of IT – infrastructure at Schnucks, said the data the robots collect will also be shared with vendors to help them improve their supply levels to stores. The initial emphasis of the pilot is to see if the chain can improve its stock positions through automation. Later, the technology may be used to reduce pricing errors and address other issues.
Mr. Steck said the robotic technology has the potential to “open up a world of other possibilities with the shelf data it collects” in a press release issued by Schnucks. If the test proves successful, the chain is expected to roll it out to additional locations although it has not made any public comment on a number.
- Schnucks Partners with Simbe Robotics to Test Robot at Three Stores – Schnucks
- Robot workers will soon be roaming the aisles at Schnucks stores – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How might robotic technology being tested by Schnucks change the way it operates stores? How will the technology affect its relationships with three key stakeholders — customers, employees and vendors?