How long before androids replace humans at retail?
We’ve seen the future of retail and it includes robots. According to reports, banks and a department store in Japan are using humanoid robotic devices to help improve the customer experience. In the case of the Mitsukoshi department store, the robot known as Aiko Chihira from Toshiba looks like a young woman.
It is not likely to be mistaken for an actual person, at least at this point, since it won’t be able to engage in a conversation or respond to questions from customers at the Tokyo department store.
The robot, which will speak in Japanese and also uses sign language, will be used to provide customers with information about the store and events. It has been designed to move its lips while speaking, and other human movements such as blinking have been incorporated into its features.
Closer to home, Lowe’s has tested non-human looking robots in store as a customer service aid. OSHbot, created by Fellow Robotics, is able to communicate with customers in multiple languages and can help them find products or engage with live associates elsewhere in the store to get answers to their questions.
In a RetailWire poll from last October, 58 percent of respondents indicated that they expected to see widespread adoption of robots in U.S. retail over the next decade.
- Pint-Size Humanoid Helps Customers at Japanese Bank – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Robotic Customer Service? In This Japanese Store, That’s the Point – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Lowe’s new sales help seems a little robotic – RetailWire
Do you see a future in which robots replace humans as sales associates in retail stores? Will consumers be more or less receptive to robots at retail if they look more human?