Schnuck Markets, a family-owned supermarket retailer, announced the installation of up to 111 artificial intelligence-powered robots, known as Tally, in all of its stores in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin. According to a joint press statement from Schnucks and its technology partner, Simbe Robotics, the chain is the first to use AI-powered inventory management technology at scale.
According to both companies, the robots improved Shnuck’s real-time inventory management due to increased shelf stock accuracy, and the method has been linked to its automatic replenishment system. These gadgets go up and down shop aisles up to three times per day to spot stock-outs and scan shelves to ensure that each item is in its rightful position and aligned with the relevant shelf tag. The robots are able to detect 14 times more out-of-stocks than manual scans by human workers and decreased stock-outs by 20 to 30 percent, depending on the store.
Dave Steck, Schnucks’ vice president of IT infrastructure and application development, stated that his company and other grocers are facing a new normal. He continued that the robots deployed have been instrumental in ensuring they can continue to provide an exceptional store experience while rising to meet new operational challenges.
According to him, robots have become an integral component of their stores, streamlining operations and ultimately creating a better store experience for their customers and teammates. Based on a video posted to Schnucks’ Facebook page, the devices do not appear to be a problem for Schnucks’ customers and may even be a source of fascination for some.
Schnucks will completely operationalize these insights into the company’s supply chain and extend their capacity to exploit real-time data to make revenue-affecting choices, according to Mr. Steck, in regards to the deployment of the robots.
Schnucks’ intention to deploy inventory-taking robots contrasts with Walmart’s decision last year to discontinue its use of comparable devices after deciding that human workers could replace them at a lesser cost. Walmart claims that employees, who process online orders for pickup and delivery, are more equipped than machines to attract attention to low inventory and out-of-stocks.
The Tally robots are part of a multiyear effort that began as a six-week experiment in three stores in 2017. The project was expanded in 2018 and last year.