RETAIL NEWS

Giant Eagle piloting robots in select locations

BY Dan Berthiaume

Giant Eagle is joining the robot revolution.

The Pittsburgh-based grocery retailer is piloting the Tally autonomous shelf auditing and inventory analytics solution from Simbe Robotics at select stores in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Akron areas. Tally robots send detailed data reports to store teams every 30 minutes that capture, report and analyze the state and availability of merchandise.

Giant Eagle intends to use this information to streamline store performance, maximize customer satisfaction, increase sales, and reduce operational expenditures. Specific functions Giant Eagle will leverage Tally robots for include inventory counts for front-facing items, out-of-stock, and low stock detection, identifying misplaced, incorrectly facing or oriented items, validating price tags, and ensuring third-party supplier compliance and vendor management.

Tally has the ability to audit shelves more frequently and significantly faster than Giant Eagle’s existing manual processes, with what the company says is near-perfect accuracy. Tally requires no infrastructure changes to the store, and since it is fully self-navigating, it can operate safely during normal store hours.

“When it comes to the food retail industry, shopper experience is everything,” said Giant Eagle spokesperson Jannah Jablonowski. “If a product is unavailable at the time our customer wants to buy it, we’ve missed an opportunity and disappointed our customer. Tally helps us address these challenges by providing more precise and timely analysis of the state of in-store merchandise and freeing up staff to focus on customer service and guest interaction.”

In its current pilot deployment, Tally robots in Giant Eagle and Market District stores traverse the floors multiple times per day, scanning approximately 35,000 products across the center store grocery and health, care and beauty aisles.

Robots are becoming increasingly popular for managing in-store workflows. Walmart is aggressively expanding its use of robots (“smart associates”) to automate a variety of low-level, repetitive tasks across stores amid rising labor costs in a tight labor market. The technologies being rolled out include autonomous floor scrubbers, automated shelf-scanning robots, and FAST Unloaders which automatically scan and sort product items from trucks based on inventory needs and departments.

And in fall 2018, family-owned supermarket retailer Schnucks Markets expanded a rollout of Tally robots. In an average day, the Tally robots scan over 1.5 million products, giving Schnucks more accurate, frequent, and comprehensive insights into product flow and in-store operations.

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