Missouri-based regional grocer Schnuck Markets announced today that it is expanding its use of Simbe Robotics‘ shelf-scanning Tally robot. Tally will be rolled out to an additional 46 stores, bringing the total number of Schnuck locations using the robot to 62.
Tally is a tall, autonomous robot that roams store aisles and uses a combination of computer vision and RFID to analyze on-shelf inventory. Simbe says that Tally is 14x better at detecting out-of-stock items than manual auditing, which results in a 20 percent reduction in out-of-stock items.
Schnucks first started using Tally in the summer of 2017 and expanded that pilot in 2018. It takes Tally about three hours to scan the roughly 35,000 products per store, but it helps give store managers a closer-to-real time assessment of store inventory throughout the day.
In-store inventory accuracy is perhaps more important than ever. The early stages of the COVID pandemic and subsequent panic shopping meant staples were out of stock at stores across the country. Even though those dark times passed and stores are back to being fully stocked, grocers are girding for the holidays and potential a virus resurgence over the coming months by stocking up.
When I interviewed him in August, Brad Bogolea, Co-Founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, said that Tally can not only help with shocks to the system like what happened with the pandemic, but can also help provide more accurate inventory data for the increase in online grocery shopping. As anyone who has shopped for groceries online can attest, a big gap in inventory data means what you order may not actually be in stock when you pick it up at the store or it arrives by delivery.
Schnucks isn’t the only market that’s investing automation. Walmart is adding 1,000 Bossa Nova shelf-scanning robots to its workforce, and Woodman’s Markets is using Badger Technologies robots throughout the midwest.
In addition to Schnucks, Simbe is also working with Giant Eagle supermarkets here in the U.S. After an initial set up fee, Simbe makes its money by charging between $2,000 – $4,000 per month per store, depending on the size and number of stores.