Vallarta Supermarkets is deploying autonomous robots from Badger Technologies in a pilot program to “set new standards in store safety and cleanliness” at several of its stores in California.
Nicholasville, Ky.-based Badger said Wednesday that its cloud-based, multipurpose robots will identify hazards at five Vallarta stores in Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. At an unnamed sixth location, Vallarta also is testing the robot’s inventory management capabilities to improve on-shelf product availability.
At a sixth store, Vallarta is using a robot equipped with Badger Retail InSight to track on-shelf status and flag any out-of-stocks. (Photo courtesy of Badger Technologies)
Overall, Sylmar, Calif.-based Vallarta Supermarkets operates 53 stores throughout California.
“Providing our customers with a clean, safe environment is critical to our customers’ experience,” Steve Netherton, chief information officer and vice president of continuous improvement at Vallarta. “When we look at where to invest in innovative technologies, improving store operations is always a high priority. The Badger Technologies robots are helping us set new standards in store safety and cleanliness while ensuring a superlative shopping experience.”
Vallarta’s initial proof-of-concept (POC) featured a robot equipped with Badger Retail InSpect to complement current manual floor inspections with automatic hazard detection. After the POC exceeded expectations, Vallarta implemented the five-store pilot to flag hazards, such as spills of liquids, powders or bulk-item foods, while potentially mitigating risks of slip-and-fall accidents. Hazard notifications are delivered by the robot to the store’s public-address system and mobile pulse alerts. Images are collected and stored for a period.
“The robot gives us another pair of eyes to be more proactive in pinpointing spills and debris,” according to Suzanne Wong, Vallarta’s director of operational excellence. “The result is heightened awareness among our staff and customers that we place a big priority on store safety and cleanliness. Other benefits include improvements in customer service, labor efficiency and data for risk management.”
In addition, Vallarta is testing a robot equipped with Badger Retail InSight for automated detection of out-of-stock products at a sixth store. Cloud-based analytics and reporting software generate a list of absent, misplaced and/or mispriced products for issue remediation. Dashboard data provides insights into customer buying trends, along with the performance of product displays and advertising promotions. These automated functions also assist Vallarta’s pricing departments with collaborating and prioritizing product restocks.
“The opportunities to offload tedious but important floor inspections while gathering real-time data on product inventory makes a huge difference for retailers, especially as they grapple with continued labor shortages,” stated William “BJ” Santiago, CEO of Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil. “Our multipurpose autonomous robots offer much-needed relief by amplifying and extending staff operations while producing the data needed to improve customer satisfaction, storewide operations and retail revenues.”
Badger Technologies has deployed hundreds of autonomous robots throughout the U.S. and Australia, including at nearly 500 of Ahold Delhaize’s Giant Food Stores, Martin’s and Stop & Shop locations and all 18 of Woodman’s Markets megastores in the Midwest.
Other supermarket chains have deployed shelf-scanning Tally robots from San Francisco-based Simbe Robotics to provide autonomous inventory management. Grocery retail cooperative Wakefern Corp. announced plans to test the robots in April, and other grocery retailers that have deployed or are testing Simbe’s Tally robots include Hy-Vee, Schnuck Markets, The Save Mart Cos. and Giant Eagle.