Singapore-based Trax announced earlier this week that it has officially launched its Retail Watch computer vision-based inventory management system for grocers here in the U.S.
As we’ve covered previously, Trax retrofits stores with customized camera modules on ceilings and on shelves. These cameras snap a picture of the store’s inventory every hour and send those pics to Trax’s cloud, which uses machine learning to analyze each image to see which products are empty and if any products have been misplaced or mis-priced. A report is then sent to store management, who can then dispatch associates to re-stock and replace items.
According to this week’s U.S. announcement], the company has added autonomous robots to its tech stack, but didn’t specify their use or prominence in the overall offering.
A Trax rep told me last year that stores using its system saw a 1 percent bump in sales through improved item stocking. That 1 percent may not sound like much, but it adds up if used across multiple locations for a single retail chain. Plus, 1 percent promises to just come from better workflow of existing practices (inventory management), not adding new ones.
In addition to retailers, Trax’ also counts CPG companies among its customers. For CPG companies, Trax is more of an auditing tool to monitor shelf presence at stores to ensure they are getting what they paid for.
While keeping a close eye on store shelves may not sound sexy, it is becoming an increasingly competitive field. Walmart has developed its own computer vision-based inventory tool. And Bossa Nova, Simbe Robotics and Badger Technologies all make shelf-scanning robots.
For retailers, having more up-to-date inventory data can translate into more revenue. For consumers, it can mean fewer product outages should shocks to the system like pandemic panic buying occur again.