Robots roving supermarket aisles might have seemed like a stretch of the imagination only five years ago, but today, the concept is not only a reality; it’s quickly gaining ground with major retailers in our industry. Need an example? Introducing Marty—a friendly, googly-eyed robot that Ahold USA, parent of Giant Food Stores, is piloting in Pennsylvania, according to local source Penn Live.
Marty is a tall gray gadget personified with a set of eyes. The multi-purpose robot is part of a test program being developed by Badger Technologies.
"We recognize an opportunity to have a robot that could give us an assistance in the building to our associates. The robot can't do the work of the associates, but he can report out information and data to us that is a value, not only to us as a business, but to our customers," said Patrick Maturo, Manager of Store Optimization for Ahold USA.
In its current role, Marty the robot patrols the store aisles several times a day, and while Marty does not replace duties of any employees, he is able to:
"Marty can actually look at a unit tag on the shelf, read that unit tag, reference it back to the front register system, and know whether or not that tag is reflective of the correct retail price," Maturo noted.
Maturo also said, in Penn Live’s report, that by 2018, Ahold USA is planning to have an expanded version of the program with a dozen robots operating throughout its banners.
Other retailers currently experimenting with robots include Target, Amazon, and Walmart.
How will this technology impact the retail landscape? Could dairy, deli, and bakery departments one day soon be serviced by an all-robot staff? Deli Market News will keep you up to date.