Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee plans to pilot Simbe Robotics’ Tally shelf-scanning robot at five stores, where the technology will provide autonomous inventory management.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee said Thursday that Tally robots are already in at supermarkets in Ankeny, Iowa, and Lincoln, Neb., and more of the units will be deployed at stores in Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Omaha, Neb.; and Altoona, Iowa, in the coming weeks.
Roaming the aisles at Hy-Vee stores, the Tally robots travel the entire floor up to three times daily and scan tens of thousands of products across grocery and health-and-wellness aisles. The technology checks products’ in-stock status and ensures that items are placed properly — and where customers expect them to be — and display the correct prices and promotional information.
The on-shelf intelligence gathered by Tally’s regular scans provide accurate, frequent and actionable insights into product flow and in-store operations, enabling out-of-stocks to be reduced by up to 30%, San Francisco-based Simbe noted. In turn, the inventory management chores handled by the robot free up store associates to focus on more engaging tasks such as customer service.
“Hy-Vee has a strong reputation for excellent customer service and an employee-first culture,” Luke Tingley, senior vice president and chief information officer at Hy-Vee, said in a statement. “By employing Tally, we can continue providing that excellent service by reducing out-of-stocks and empowering our store teams with real-time insights to ensure the best customer experience across the board.”
Tally uses a suite of sensors to safely navigate around aisles, shoppers store employees, and because the robot is fully autonomous, it returns to its charging dock on its own, Simbe said. The robot works in tandem with Simbe’s cloud-powered software platform and APIs, which leverage computer vision and machine learning technology to give retailers a detailed picture of the state of their stores.
For grocery retailers, the solution can be used to conduct autonomous product audits; provide timely alerts for out-of-stock, low-stock and misplaced items; expedite price tag updates for price adjustments and promotions; provide continuous in-store performance insights for manufacturer and service partners; and sharpen product placement for a more organized shopping flow and efficient planogram, according to Simbe.
“No other retail solution supports store teams the way Tally does. The pandemic truly created a ‘new normal’ for grocery that has illuminated the need for a greater frequency and fidelity of in-store data,” stated Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics. “Hy-Vee is the perfect example of thoughtfully adopting technology to improve the store experience for both customers and their teams. As retailers face a growing number of considerations, Tally provides a cost-effective solution that ensures they can continue to provide excellent customer service and create a valuable, more enjoyable working environment for their employees.”
Overall, Hy-Vee generates annual sales of about $11 billion and operates more than 280 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.