Giant Eagle has become latest U.S. retailer to turn to roving robots to monitor shelf inventory and assist with other operational functions.
The Pittsburgh-based multiformat retailer officially unveiled its pilot project with Simbe Robotics’ Tally in its hometown stores, as well as in the Cleveland and Akron markets, to primarily monitor and replenish out-of-stocks. Giant Eagle officials said its test with Tally also monitors shelf placement while allowing store associates to focus on customers rather than inventory issues.
During its test phase, Tally robots traverse the retailer’s floors in both its Giant Eagle and Market District format stores multiple times per day and scan approximately 35,000 products in the center store, grocery, health and beauty aisles. In turn, Giant Eagle’s store teams receive detailed data reports every 30 minutes that capture, report and analyze the state and availability of merchandise. The status reports generated by the autonomous shelf-scanning robot help the chain’s retail teams focus on controllable out-of-stock and pricing situations while optimizing each store’s assortment.
Roger Wolfe, senior manager of research and development for Giant Eagle, narrates a video of Tally in action here.
Noting that the “shopper experience is everything,” Giant Eagle spokesperson Jannah Jablonowski said the pilot deployment of Tally has proven valuable so far. “If a product is unavailable at the time our customer wants to buy it, we’ve missed an opportunity and disappointed our customer. Tally helps us address these challenges by providing more precise and timely analysis of the state of in-store merchandise and freeing up staff to focus on customer service and guest interaction,” Jablonowski said in a statement.
Powered by a combination of computer vision and RFID technology, Tally is helping Giant Eagle benefit from high-accuracy inventory count of front-facing items; out-of-stock and low-stock detection; identification of misplaced items and incorrectly positioned items; product price tag validation; and third-party supplier compliance and vendor management
“Giant Eagle is investing in cutting-edge inventory solutions to ensure the products customers want are where they expect them to be,” said Brad Bogolea, CEO of San Francisco-based Simbe, in a release. “With Tally, Giant Eagle can leverage actionable data about what’s happening on shelves. Tally’s insights add immense value to Giant Eagle customers by improving their overall in-store experience, and to store teams by empowering them with frequent, accurate inventory information.”
Bogolea said Tally can audit shelves more frequently and significantly faster than existing processes with near-perfect accuracy. He also noted that Tally requires no store infrastructure changes and can coexist safely during normal store hours alongside shoppers and employees.
With approximately $8.9 billion in annual sales, Giant Eagle Inc. has 460 stores in western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.