Wakefern Food Corp., the nation’s largest grocery retail cooperative, plans to test the Tally shelf-scanning robot Simbe Robotics to enable autonomous inventory management.
San Francisco-based Simbe said Thursday that, in the pilot, Wakefern will deploy Tally at selected stores throughout its trading area. Overall, the Wakefern co-op encompasses nearly 50 members who independently own and operate over 360 supermarkets under the ShopRite (about 280 locations), Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Under the test, Tally will roam the aisles at Wakefern stores to scan thousands of products on shelves across categories, covering the entire floor up to three times daily, Simbe reported. Computer vision technology on the robots checks products’ in-stock status and ensures that items are placed properly — and where customers expect them to be — and show the correct prices and promotional information.
“Wakefern Food Corp. is committed to providing our customers best-in-class grocery shopping experiences,” Charles McWeeney, vice president of technology, innovation and strategy at Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern, said in a statement. “Tally’s technology is another tool to help our store operations and staff while creating new opportunities to maximize customer satisfaction.”
Now at version 3.0, Tally employs an array of sensors to navigate around aisles, shoppers and store associates, and because the robot is fully autonomous, it returns to its charging dock on its own, according to Simbe. The robot works in coordination with Simbe’s cloud-powered software platform and APIs, which use computer vision and machine learning technology to give retailers a detailed status report on the on-shelf situation in their stores.
Simbe said on its website that Tally scans up 15,000 to 30,000 products an hour, and its thrice-daily shelf audit yields 99% accuracy, compared with 65% accuracy for a once-weekly manual audit. The company reported that Tally detects up to 10 times more out-of-stock products versus manual shelf checks. In turn, the inventory management duties handled by the robot free up store associates to focus on more engaging tasks such as customer service.
“The retail industry is facing a unique and unprecedented set of challenges, and companies must thoughtfully adopt technology to address those challenges while continuing to provide a stellar level of service that customers expect,” according to Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics. “Tally is a cost-effective solution that supports the work of store teams and enhances the retail experience for associates and customers.”
Other grocery retailers that have deployed or are testing Simbe’s Tally robot include Hy-Vee, Schnuck Markets, The Save Mart Cos. and Giant Eagle.