Shoppers at select Midwestern Hy-Vee store could find themselves walking alongside a robot whilst rummaging for rutabagas. The grocery store chain announced today that it will be deploying five of Simbe Robotics’ shelf-scanning Tally robots at stores to help automate inventory management.
Simbe’s Tally is a tall, autonomous robot that roams store aisles using cameras and computer vision and artificial intelligence to monitor product inventory and promotional pricing. Tally will scan tens of thousands of products across the store up to three times a day to help prevent outages on store shelves, identify misplaced items and ensure that products are being sold for the right price.
Brad Bogolea, Co-Founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, told me by video chat that the two biggest challenges his grocery retail customers are looking to solve are around supply chain and increased competition.
“Every company experiencing [supply chain issues],” Bogolea said, “You have to make more meaningful use of your existing stock.” In today’s press announcement, Simbe said that Tally can help retailers reduce out-of-stock items by up to 30 percent.
In addition to making sure shelves are properly stocked, Bogolea also said that existing retailers are feeling competitive pressures from the likes of Amazon. “Ensuring proper pricing at the store level is super important,” he said, noting how Tally helps make sure items are priced properly.
Today’s deal with Hy-Vee follows a similar announcement from Schnuck Markets at the end of August. Schnucks is deploying Tallys to all of its 111 locations across the country.
Hy-Vee’s deployment is much smaller as of now. Tally robots are already in use at Hy-Vees in Ankeny, Iowa and Lincoln, Nebraska. Three more will be rolling out to stores in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska and Altoona, Iowa over the coming weeks.
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