NRF: Roving robots report for work at all Giant Foods’ stores
At the NRF Big Show in New York on Monday, Nick Bertram, president at Giant Foods, revealed that the supermarket chain is rolling out “Marty,” a 6’3” robotic assistant, to all 172 of its stores.
Nearly 500 robots will be deployed out across Giant Foods and Stop & Shop, also owned by Ahold Delhaize, in what Steven Platt, research director, Retail Analytics Council, who also participated in the session, ranked as the largest robotics rollout at retail in the world.
Marty will be initially used to identify hazards, such as liquid, powder and bulk food item spills, and alert associates to do clean-ups. Planogram compliance and in-stock monitoring is expected next.
At the NRF session, Mr. Bertram said a surprise in the pilot of the robot was that customers weren’t intimated, but “actually loved” the robot. Including “googly eyes” added a “little bit more fun” to the robot’s appearance. He said, “[Marty] did freak some of them out, but especially children found that having a live robot in a supermarket is exciting.”
Marty is appearing in selfies on social media.
Another possible hurdle of having robots working in public is the perception that they are replacing human workers. Giant worked to educate associates on understanding robotics’ role in reducing redundant and mundane tasks in order to help them “really focus on exceptional customer engagement.”
Giant also found the public has a “higher perception” of the net benefits of robotics than many assume.
Finally, Mr. Bertam also called out the ROI of rolling out a robot for spill alerts. He said the initial focus was on “more practical” solutions, but believes additional applications will prove out the ROI. He is “most excited” about the second phase that adds planograms and in-stock maintenance, as out-of-stocks are still a primary shopper complaint. Costs are also coming down as robotics and artificial intelligence are adopted.
“We as a retail industry have to take advantage of this exponential growth in technology and not be avoiding it,” said Mr. Bertram.
The rollout comes as a number of grocery chains including Schnucks and others are testing robots that scan shelves for out-of-stocks. Last fall, Walmart introduced a robot for scrubbing floors.
- Robot rollout: Nearly 500 robots coming to Stop & Shop, Giant/Martin’s – Ahold Delhaize
- Why Is There a Robot in My Store? – RIS News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see associates, shoppers, costs or functionality as the biggest hurdle holding back robots from becoming a bigger presence on selling floors? What do you see as the greatest potential benefits to robotic tech on selling floors?