Ahold Delhaize USA plans to deploy robots to nearly 500 Giant Food Stores, Martin's and Stop & Shop locations to help improve in-store efficiencies and safety.
The company’s Retail Business Services (RBS) arm said Monday that the rollout, slated to continue through the early part of 2019, comes after successful store pilots of the technology. The initiative stems from a partnership between RBS and retail automation and robotics provider Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil.
Named “Marty,” the robots are being used to flag hazards — such as liquid, powder and bulk food-item spills — and report when corrective action is needed. RBS said the robots help stores reduce the risk caused by such spills, freeing up store associates to spend more time serving customers.
“As part of our continued focus on technology transformation, we’re pleased to support one of the most significant deployments of robotics innovation in the grocery retail industry,” Paul Scorza, executive vice president and chief information officer for RBS, said in a statement. “Several companies in the grocery retail space have recently begun testing or using in-store robots, something Retail Business Services and the local brands we serve have been doing for some time. We’re pleased to support the Giant/Martin’s and Stop & Shop brands, as they now lead the industry from test to large-scale usage of robots and to see the benefits the technology continues to drive for their businesses.”
During the store pilots, customers easily recognized the Marty robots by their friendly appearance, RBS noted. RBS said other Ahold Delhaize USA retail brands are testing the robots in select locations. Overall, the retailer operates about 1,960 supermarkets under the Stop & Shop, Giant/Martin’s, Giant Food, Food Lion and Hannaford banners in the Northeast and along the East Coast.
Over the past year, Giant/Martin’s has been piloting Marty in its stores at 4211 Union Deposit Rd., Harrisburg, Pa., and 255 Spring Garden St., Carlisle, Pa.
“Bringing robotics and A.I. from a research lab to the sales floor has been a very exciting journey, and we were thrilled by the customer response in our pilot stores,” Giant President Nicholas Bertram stated. “Our associates have worked hard to bring this innovation to life with amazing partners.”
Plans call for Giant to deploy Marty to its 172 stores over the coming months and to complete the rollout by mid-2019.
“We are excited to be part of this industry-leading rollout of fully autonomous robots that collect safety data while traversing retail stores,” said Frederic McCoy, senior vice president at Jabil Retail. “Real-time hazard alerts empower stores to resolve incidents like spills, as well as improve operations.”
In another partnership, Ahold Delhaize USA is testing robotics for online grocery fulfillment. The retailer has teamed up with Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff Technologies to develop mini robotic warehouses to assemble orders made through online grocery subsidiary Peapod.