When you shop at a Schnucks grocery store, you may share the aisle with Tally the shelf-scanning robot. Made by Simbe Robotics, Tally is autonomous and scans shelves for inventory to make restocking easier. Schnucks is expanding its use of the robot to 62 locations, which will allow Tally to scan more than 4.2 million products every day.
“The real-time data Tally collects helps retailers like Schnucks ensure shelves are stocked, prices are correct, and the products customers are looking for are where they expect them to be. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Tally has been crucial to Schnucks’ success. Tally has been able to keep track of inventory and replenishment, while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time workers need to spend in the aisles, keeping customers happy and workers safe,” Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, said.
Tally removes the mundane, often-dreaded task of manual inventory checking. It frees up 30 to 100 hours per week for teams to put down their pens and clipboards and focus on more important jobs, such as helping customers and keeping the store clean.
By using Tally, Schnucks has seen a 20% reduction in items being out of stock, and the robot’s inventory counts are on average 14 times more accurate than manual audits. Over the next two years, Simbe plans to roll out an additional 1,000 Tally robots to the retail industry.
“Since Simbe’s founding, we have approached Tally’s design with thoughtfulness to foster positive, valuable human-robot interaction for both retailers and shoppers. Tally operates alongside customers during regular business hours, so we have designed the robot to be keenly aware of its surroundings – and gave it great manners – always giving people the right of way and avoiding crowded aisles while it strategically captures inventory,” Bogolea said.
Tally was built to integrate into retail environments. Bogolea explains that the company carefully considered this when it designed the robot’s small, face-like screen, which signals its job and the direction it is headed to a passersby, along with its subtle beeps and boops so it does not startle onlookers with its movements.
“Because of these thoughtful design features and the robot’s childlike mannerisms, customers often refer to Tally as adorable or cute, and it has received a fair share of hugs and attention from small children,” Bogolea added.
The coronavirus pandemic showed the importance of accurate retail inventory data. Almost no store was immune to panic buying and product shortages due to the virus, and the immense value of retail robotics was brought into focus. Now, expanding use of robotics will continue to transform grocery stores.