In the News
Last December, Amazon.com Inc. stunned the world. It announced Amazon Go, a radical concept for the online giant — physical stores enabled by robots in retail.
Amazon Go is a fully automated grocery store. No humans are involved. The customer walks in, picks up what he or she wants and walks out. An app, cameras, and artificial intelligence do the work of a cashier.
Even if you are not a retailer, you should pay attention to Amazon Go because your market could be next.
Although Amazon is pushing the envelope, it is not alone in using robotics in retail.
- Just as automation has affected factories and warehouses, so too will robotics and AI change retail and other customer-facing operations.
- Major retailers have already begun testing robots, but small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) shouldn’t let themselves fall behind in using robots for greater efficiency and personalized customer service.
- In combination with big data generated by the Internet of Things, robotics and AI could help retailers be more responsive in the era of e-commerce.
Target Corp. is using a robot from Simbe Robotics to count items on shelves or scan for incorrect prices. The Lowe’s Cos. has worked with Fellow Robots on LoweBot, a service robot that will greet customers and bring them the aisles where the items they’re looking for are located.
Do not be surprised if you end up talking to an AI-based chatbot the next time you order a drink from Starbucks.
Looking at these and other examples tell us two things. First, robotics is coming fast to retail operations.
Second, it appears that mostly large, well-known retail firms are using robotics.
What if you’re a corner “Mom & Pop” shop? Or, what if you’re a well-established grocer in your local community but not known beyond it? What can you do with robotics in your business?