Five Vallarta Supermarkets in California—in Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties—will now be home to multipurpose autonomous robots from Badger Technologies as part of a pilot program the two companies have implemented.
The robots will be at the stores to “reinforce operational and customer-service excellence,” according to a release. They will also be tested at a sixth Vallarta store to “determine their inventory management capabilities, aimed at improving on-shelf product availability.”
“Providing our customers with a clean, safe environment is critical to our customers’ experience,” said Steve Netherton, chief information officer and VP of continuous improvement for Vallarta Supermarkets, in a news release. “When we look at where to invest in innovative technologies, improving store operations is always a high priority. The Badger Technologies robots are helping us set new standards in store safety and cleanliness, while ensuring a superlative shopping experience.”
According to a news statement, “Vallarta’s initial proof-of-concept (POC) featured a robot equipped with Badger Retail InSpect to complement existing manual floor inspections with automatic hazard detection.” The POC "exceeded expectations," prompting the grocer to implement the five-store pilot and use the robots to identify hazards such as spills of liquids, powders or bulk-item foods. The robots do this by delivering hazard notifications and images to the store’s “public-address system and mobile pulse alerts.”
“The robot gives us another pair of eyes to be more proactive in pinpointing spills and debris,” said Suzanne Wong, director of operational excellence for Vallarta, in a statement. “The result is heightened awareness among our staff and customers that we place a big priority on store safety and cleanliness. Other benefits include improvements in customer service, labor efficiency and data for risk management.”
At the sixth location, Vallarta will test a robot equipped with Badger Retail InSight that will detect out-of-stock products, as well as absent, misplaced and/or mispriced products. Additionally, the store will be provided with data regarding what customers are buying, as well as the performance of product displays and advertising promotions. The technology will also be helpful for the store’s pricing department, as it will collaborate and prioritize product restocking.
“The opportunities to offload tedious but important floor inspections, while gathering real-time data on product inventory makes a huge difference for retailers, especially as they grapple with continued labor shortages,” said William “BJ” Santiago, CEO of Badger Technologies, in a statement. “Our multipurpose autonomous robots offer much-needed relief by amplifying and extending staff operations, while producing the data needed to improve customer satisfaction, storewide operations, and retail revenues.”
California-based Vallarta Supermarkets, founded in 1985, has a chain of 53 full-service markets throughout California. It is recognized as one of the largest Latino supermarket chains in the state.
Badger Technologies is a product division of Jabil, and has nearly 600 autonomous robots deployed throughout the U.S. and Australia.