How Robots are Transforming the Retail Industry

Robots are Transforming RetailRobots were once confined to a manufacturing setting with a highly controlled environment and predetermined, repeatable movements. But over the last few decades, robots have evolved dramatically and can take on new applications outside of the factory with far greater variability in their environments.

The retail industry provides a challenging setting for robots, but in recent years there’s been a surge in robotic applications in retail. The introduction of robots in retail, whether in the store or behind the scenes, promises to transform the retail industry forever.

Autonomous Mobile Robots in the Warehouse

A vital component of a successful retail business model is the ability to efficiently move goods to and from stores. Consumers today demand the option to return items at their convenience and expect items to always be available at the store. Retailers without a robust logistics operation will not satisfy their customers.

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in the warehouse are bringing major efficiencies to retail warehouses. AMRs ensure the quick and accurate flow of goods within the warehouse, which is critical for managing the flow of reverse logistics and prompt delivery to stores.

The accuracy, efficiency and productivity that AMRs deliver can have reverberations throughout the whole organization. Retailers that can cut operational costs while improving service are better positioned to compete with the rapid rise of e-commerce.

Retail Robot Applications on the Horizon

While AMRs are an important part of the retail industry, there are many other applications that are being implemented today or are just around the corner. Many of these don’t include behind the scenes work like AMRs do – they involve directly engaging with customers.

Current and potential robotic applications in retail include:

  • Security and loss patrol
  • Point of sale
  • Customer engagement and entertainment
  • Inventory management
  • Cleaning
  • Traffic measuring
  • Facial recognition and loyalty

There are many ways that robots can be used in retail. Often, these solutions require autonomous robots that can safely navigate a store while performing other tasks to facilitate sales within the store.

While robotic applications in retail are still in their infancy, robots promise to transform retail forever, brining new levels of efficiency and autonomy.