Are robots taking over Schnucks’ stores?
Schnuck Markets is going to the robots. The family-owned grocery chain announced that it is rolling out artificial intelligence-powered robots to all 111 of its stores in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin.
The robots, known as Tally, are part of a multiyear program that began as a six-week pilot in 2017 at three stores and was expanded in 2018 and again last year. The devices move up and down store aisles up to three times a day to identify where there are stock outs as well as scanning shelves to make sure that each item is in its proper place and aligned with the correct shelf tag.
A joint press release by Schnucks and Simbe Robotics, its technology partner, claims that the chain is the first grocer in the world to “utilize AI-powered inventory management technology at scale.”
The companies claim that the robots have enabled Schnucks to identify 14-times more out-of-stocks than manual scans by human associates and reduced stock outs between 20 and 30 percent, depending on the store. Increased accuracy of shelf stock has improved the grocer’s real-time inventory management and the process has been integrated into its automated replenishment system.
Dave Steck, vice president of IT infrastructure and application development, Schnucks, said his company and other grocers “are facing a ‘new normal’” and that the robots deployed have “been instrumental to ensuring we continue to provide an exceptional store experience while rising to meet new operational challenges.”
Mr. Steck said that with the rollout of the robots, Schnucks will be “fully operationalizing these insights into our supply chain and expanding our ability to leverage real-time data to make revenue impacting decisions.”
The robots, he said, have “become an integral component of our stores, streamlining operations and ultimately creating a better store experience for our customers and teammates.” The devices, based on a video posted to Schnucks’ Facebook page, appear to not be a problem for Schnucks’ customers and may actually be a source of fascination for some.
Schnucks’ decision to roll out its inventory-taking robots stands in contrast to Walmart, which announced last year that it was discontinuing its use of similar devices after determining that they could be replaced at a lower cost by human associates. Walmart said that the associates, as they fill online orders for pickup and delivery, are better able to draw attention more quickly to low inventory and out-of-stocks than robots.
- Schnuck Markets Becomes World’s First Grocer to Deploy Intelligence Robots Chainwide – Schnuck Markets, Inc.
- Tally’s newest best friend – Schnucks/Facebook
- Can robots keep shelves stocked at Schnucks? – RetailWire
- Will Walmart’s decision to scrap robots have far-ranging effects? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to Schnuck Markets decision to deploy its inventory-taking robots chainwide? Do you think more retailers selling fast-moving goods will take the approach of Schnucks or Walmart when it comes to this type of technology going forward?