I, Robot Retailer
By George Anderson
It’s a brave new world. According to a San Francisco Business Times article, Safeway and Macy’s West are testing futuristic vending machines that sell high-priced gadgets delivered to consumers via robotic arms. The company’s founder says the 28-square-foot systems generate revenues between $1,500 and $15,000 per square-foot.
The devices, developed by Zoom Systems of San Francisco, let customers order goods using a touch screen and credit card. A robotic arm inside the machine then delivers the product to consumers. Zoom monitors each transaction as it takes place and keeps tabs on the inventory, as well.
“We’re very encouraged so far by consumer adoption of self-serve, automated retail … and our ability to be a new channel for these popular brands and products,” said Gower Smith, founder of Zoom Systems. “Automated retail makes sense. We made a significant investment in technology and the last year has been enlightening. We’re getting real data from the marketplace.”
Mr. Smith’s company currently has 100 of its automated Zoom Shops in operation and sales have grown in double-digits for each machine, every month in operation. The company is looking to have 10,000 shops operating within five years.
Moderator’s Comment: What do you see as the biggest benefit to retailers using a system such as the Zoom Shop? How do you see vending and robotics helping
to shape (or not) retailing environments in the future? –
George Anderson – Moderator