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Grocery stores are facing many challenges, including thin profit margins, staff retention challenges, and more recently, the need to compete with online retailers and maintain social distancing. Although Walmart’s recent cancellation of its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics was a setback, robots can still help grocers meet these challenges. Badger Technologies LLC yesterday said it is collaborating with STCR Inc. to speed deployments of autonomous mobile robots in independent and regional grocery stores around the world.
For more than 50 years, Endwell, N.Y.-based STCR has aided hundreds of grocers in the selection, implementation, and support of technology such as point-of-sale and self-checkout systems. The company said the addition of Badger’s robots to its portfolio of retail innovations will help stores streamline and automate critical operations.
Nicholasville, Ky.-based Badger Technologies is a product division of Jabil, which provides design, manufacturing, supply chain, and product management services. Badger Technologies said its robots are designed to capture and share valuable data automate hazard detection, and address inventory disconnects to improve profitability and shopping experiences. The company has also developed an autonomous security robot. To date, more than 500 Badger robots have been deployed throughout the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, while 15 pilot deployments are currently under way.
STCR, Badger Technologies to collect, use actionable data
The companies said their collaboration will speed deployments of robots to address critical out-of-stock, price integrity, planogram-compliance, and other operational inefficiencies. STCR is working with Badger Technologies to expand implementations of its multipurpose robotic lineup, which includes the following:
- Badger Retail InSight — This autonomous robot can identify missing, incorrectly priced, and misplaced products. In addition to performing shelf scans in hours instead of days, this robot is designed to provide precise product location data within a 4-ft. section of store aisles.
- Badger Retail InSpect — This hazard-detection robot traverses store aisles looking for liquid, powder, and bulk-food spills and debris. Real-time hazard alerts can mitigate risks while keeping stores cleaner and safer for shoppers, said Badger.
- Badger Retail InForm — This combination robot integrates hazard-detection and shelf-scanning capabilities to provide grocers with elevated inventory-management and store-safety capabilities.
“Our mission is to bring much-needed retail automation to the independent and regional grocer, empowering them to run their stores more efficiently while competing more effectively with the largest supermarket chains,” said Farrell McKenna, general manager of STCR. “Adding Badger Technologies autonomous robots to our portfolio was a no-brainer, as they complement our existing solutions and extend the amount of actionable data and insights we can offer our grocery customers.”
Robots intended to boost grocers’ pandemic response
STCR and Badger Technologies said they are also focused on helping grocers respond to pressures from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. By integrating robot-collected data with mobile shopping applications, retailers can ensure that shoppers, store associates, and online order pickers can find what they’re looking for quickly.
In addition, the ability to generate real-time stocking reports on the most popular items enables grocers to stock shelves more frequently throughout the day, said the companies.
“There’s been a major groundswell of demand for in-store robots to help grocery staff keep stores safe and shelves fully stocked, especially during COVID-19,” said Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies. “Working with STCR enables us to accelerate deployments while ensuring independent and regional grocers can provide their local communities with highly personalized customer service.”
Woodman’s Markets, an independent, employee-owned grocer with 18 stores throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, is relying on Badger Technologies autonomous robots to better support its customers, especially during the pandemic.
“We’re using real-time trending data gathered by our robots to better forecast and manage commodities and vendors with frequent stock issues, which escalated during COVID-19,” said Tyler Davis, IT project coordinator at Woodman’s Markets. “We’re also using highly accurate pricing data produced by the robots to prioritize replenishment on behalf of our customers.”