The deployment of robotics in retail is enabling businesses to revamp and enhance the entire retail value chain.
According to a study, 80% of businesses plan to deploy chatbots by 2020. Businesses are deploying different types of chatbots as the first touchpoints for online communication. But now robotics is not just implemented behind the computers for online communications; robots are slowly making their way to be the first touchpoints in offline communications as well. Nowadays, people often see robots playing the role of receptionists at hotels, clinics, and retail stores. And not just as receptionists, retail stores are now deploying robots at almost every stage of the retail chain. Robotics in retail can enhance various operations and services to fuel sustainable growth.
Leveraging Robotics in Retail
Several retail stores across the globe have already implemented robotics to reap its benefits by enhancing…
In-Store Customer Service
Finding the product they want can be tedious for shoppers at some point in time. But not anymore as robots can now help shoppers with information on where exactly to find what they are looking for. Robots, with the help of natural language processing, can understand consumers and help them navigate to the products they want. LoweBot is an example of how robots can enhance the in-store customer experience. Developed by Lowe’s Innovation Labs, LoweBot is able to understand multiple languages and help consumers effectively navigate stores.
Another effective example is Softbank’s Pepper Robot. Pepper, with the help of computer vision, can easily detect human emotions and engage with them in multiple languages. It can play music, dance, and take selfies with customers to light up their mood.
Computer vision enables robots to view and understand images. And with computer vision, robots can monitor stock levels of different products in the inventory. They can also alert when a high demand product goes low in stock. And not just in the warehouse, robots can monitor stock on retail shelves as well. For example, Simbe Robotics developed Tally, a robot that can monitor inventory level and product pricing within the store. This eliminates the need for employees to audit inventory and pricing, and allows them to focus more on customer experience and engagement.
Real Time Recommendations
Recommendation systems have been long used in the ecommerce industry. It is used for segmenting customers based on their data, such as preferences, locations, and demographics. This segmentation helps businesses to provide personalized recommendations to customers. The same recommendation systems can be easily embedded in robots. Robots in retail shops can segment customers with the help of computer vision and ML algorithms. They can segment them based on their purchase history and age groups. This can help robots provide real-time recommendations to consumers. Providing real-time recommendations helps to engage customers. For example, an experiment of deploying recommendation robots in retail stores showed that consumers remained longer in front of the shelves when provided with recommendations.
Retailers should become early adopters of robotics to get a competitive advantage. But for implementing robotics in retail, they should start small and then scale up. For instance, they can start by deploying stationary robots. Stationary robots are fixed at their position but have robotic arms that can move. They are less costly and easy to deploy as compared to moving robots. Once they are successful in implementing stationary robots, they can scale to deploy a more complex system of both stationary and mobile -- even anthropomorphic -- robots.