Retail robots compared to other industrial robots are not a very common sight. One of the reasons is because some people think robots only carry out tasks such as item handling, assembling, packing, loading and unloading, palletizing and other heavy industrial applications. The retail industry is human workforce oriented, but a few outlets are embracing the use of robots at their workstations.
Some of the robots come with special features that make it easier for many of the applications around the retail stores. One good example is by using a Universal Robot from the Danish robot-manufacturing company, Universal Robots, that comes with robotic arms and sensors that make it act almost like a human. The cobot are not only flexible but they work alongside humans with ease.
This is how robots are changing the retail industry:
Monitoring and replenishing stock levels
Empty shelves send mixed signals to buyers who could assume that the store is running out of products. The empty shelves phenomenon is especially bad during the holiday seasons when there is a large traffic of customers buying different goods all at once. Keeping up with the traffic of consumers is hectic and tiring for human workers, which leads to shelves running empty fast.
With cobots working alongside humans, retail shop owners no longer have to worry about empty shelves. Cobots monitor the levels of the stock and send signals to the stock room for replenishment, which in turn keeps buyers from relocating to other stores where they can find what they want, any time they want it. The robots are faster than humans are, and come with the ability to take note of many changes around them with more precision.
Spot mistakes easily
One of the most frustrating things customers go through in a retail shop is picking up an item and paying a different price from the indicated one. Using humans to identify mistakes on the labels does not guarantee 100% accuracy. Robots come with installed cameras that help to scan and identify any problems with labelling. When they detect a problem, they send a signal to the staff concerned for fixing. Robots identify discrepancies on the shelves faster than humans do.
People like to shop in stores where they can locate what they want easily, failure to which they walk out into another store. To keep customers from leaving because they cannot find what they need easily, some retail owners use robots as guides to assist clients in find whatever they want. Customers communicate with the robots by either typing or verbally saying the name of the item. The robot then leads the customer to the place where the item is.
Another way robots are assisting customers is by helping them carry their luggage to their cars. In some stores, the customer does not even have to appear but make an order through their phones or tablets and give directions as to where the delivery should go.
Longer opening hours
If you have only human workers in your retail shop, you can allow them to work for a stipulated number of hours per day. Anything beyond the usual working hours leads to mistakes because of fatigue, which in turn may lead to loss of customers. Using robots means you can extend the working hours to cater for both early and late shoppers. You would even have a better chance of having enough human workers to work shifts.
Opening the retail store for longer hours helps to increase production and sales, which translates to better profits. It also helps to protect the stores reputation and increase traffic. Besides that, it eases the monotony of doing the same thing repeatedly for the human staff workers. Repetition leads to lack of interest in the work, which can translate to low sales.
Wrapping it up
With many customers opting to do their shopping online, retail storeowners have no other alternative than to streamline all their services. Using robots as their assistants in the stores is one of the best ones as it creates a kind of trust between them and the customers.