Amazon, Ocado and Walmart are all deploying them – but how much impact will robotics have on retail?
Robots are set to have a major impact on how retailers operate, with Deloitte estimating that 2.1 million jobs across the sector have a “high chance” of being automated in the next two decades.
However, the robots are set to impact more than just distribution centres. US grocery bellwether Walmart has deployed robots across 50 of its stores, which are able to scan shelves three times as quickly as a human store associate.
Sarjoun Skaff, the chief executive of Bossa Nova, which developed the robots being trialled in Walmart’s stores, told Retail Week for our special report Can robots help run your business?: “This is an investment that allows [retailers] to restock a shelf faster, which leads to an increase in sales, which offers a very quick return on investment.
“Everybody wins – the employees get to do their job better and spend their time selling, the store is more efficient so there’s less inventory in the back room and the shopper finds what they’re looking for faster.”
Retail Week’s special report, Can robots help run your business?, delves into how robotics and automation will impact stores, warehouses, delivery and customer service, which sectors will be most affected and what retailers should do now.
The final mile is also ripe for robotic disruption, with companies ranging from Kroger in the US to JD.com in China developing autonomous vehicles that could deliver purchases to shoppers at their convenience – and at a fraction of the cost of paying a human courier to fulfil an order.
Academy of Robotics founder William Sachiti said: “Autonomous delivery will see necessary items such as bread and milk put in cars for delivery at the click of a button on an app.
“This is not done today because of the human expense, but an autonomous car that costs less than 1p per mile will revolutionise this space.”
Whether you operate a pureplay etailer and are looking to cut down supply chain costs or a grocery chain struggling to marry shoppers’ appetite for convenience with the rising costs of order fulfilment, robotics could offer a solution that challenges the status quo and strengthens your business.
Find out more…
Robotics is a key topic at Tech. – our two-day festival of digital retailing. Sessions include:
- The new wave of AI and Robotics transforming online retail, by Paul Clarke, chief technology officer, Ocado
- A new role for robots in retail, by Andrei Danescu, chief executive and co-founder of Bots and Us and Trevor Periera, chief technology officer at Intu
- Tomorrow’s retail: Robots will guide us, by Martin Wild, chief innovation officer at MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group and Tom the Robot