Robotic grocery store to open in Des Moines
From self-scan checkout to touch-screen ordering to in-store robotics, technological advancements in retail often seem to point to the possibility of an entirely automated store. While recent media attention has focused on the attempts of big technology players like Amazon to further enable retail to operate without humans at the helm, the first fully-robotic grocery store could come from an unexpected place — a non-profit organization called Eat Greater Des Moines.
A report by KCCI News describes the project. The store is a drive-through kiosk that allows customers to order groceries entirely by touchscreen. Product is then brought to the customer by a system built around a robotic conveyor belt with an "extractor" at the end.
"[The] project takes a simple and familiar idea, a vending machine, and turns it on its head," said executive director of Eat Greater Des Moines Aubrey Alvarez in an interview with Fox News.
An article in Food World News further explains that the store is the result of a partnership between Eat Greater Des Moines and a business equipment firm called Oasis24seven. The plan is to deploy the fully automated stores in food deserts for those who do not readily have access to grocery stores. The robotic stores can reportedly hold from 200 to 800 items weighing up to ten pounds each, and the stores allow for refrigeration. The stores are intended to operate at any time of day.
Ms. Alvarez told Food World News that Eat Greater Des Moines intends to source products from a local non-profit that also supplies 12 food pantries and intends to keep the prices in line with standard grocery stores. The robotic stores will allow for various electronic payment methods.
The organization plans to begin construction of the store by the end of July and hopes to launch it soon thereafter, according to Fox News.
Bigger players like Amazon have been working to develop robotic technology that automates many elements of retail’s front end and back end. According to a Quartz article, Amazon currently has more than 15,000 robots in its warehouse to move items around, and has recently begun demoing technology it hopes will someday enable robots to handle some or all of the picking process.
A recent patent application from Amazon further suggested that the company is working on a tech-enabled brick-and-mortar presence that would allow customers to shop and purchase items without having to go through a checkout line.
- New robotic grocery store coming to Des Moines – KCCI.com
- Robot Grocery Store: Eat Greater Des Moines And Oasis24seven Making Automated Grocery Shopping Reality! – Food World News
- Robot grocery store gives high-tech upgrade to food shopping – Fox News
- Amazon tests out robots that might one day replace warehouse workers – Quartz
- Could Amazon’s brick-and-mortar invention eliminate checkout lines? – RetailWire
What challenges will come with trying to operate a fully automated grocery store? Do you see a greater potential for deployment of such stores in food deserts or in higher income areas?