And his name is Tally.
The robot is being tested at a store in the Richmond Heights area of the city. A second will be tested at another store in the Kirkwood area. The tests are expected to last about six weeks.
Tally weighs about 30 pounds and stands at 38 inches tall and has sensors to avoid bumping into things like shoppers and carts. It scans the shelves and notifies the store personnel when quantities are running low.
We talk a lot about robots here at The Lempert Report – the good and the bad and while Tally is cute and will certainly make some headlines there is little doubt in my mind that Tally might just freak out some shoppers, although it may also encourage kids to join mom on the shopping trip to entertain or even tease Tally.
Out of stocks are a major problem and point to significant losses for a supermarket. Using technology to solve the problem is a good idea, but I’m not convinced that a robot wandering the store solves the problem. Tally can only be in one place and by the time it identifies an out of stock the shopper may already be down another aisle. And I doubt Tally’s program will let it chase the shopper to say that the product is on the way.
Why not install technology in the ceiling that can scan the shelves – all the shelves at a single time and identify in real time what’s out of stock? The tech exists and similar tech is used in test facilities like Pepsi’s in Texas to observe consumer behavior and decision making.
At a time when more store remodels are taking place, and the competition is heating up. Solving the out of stock dilemma might just be the thing that makes a store’s bottom line.