- Save Mart plans to test autonomous inventory robots from Simbe Robotics in seven of the grocery chain's supermarkets in Northern California, the companies announced in a press release on Friday.
- The robots, known as "Tally," will be used to scan items on store shelves at three Save Mart locations and one FoodMaxx location in the Modesto, California, area; two Lucky California stores in Dublin and San Ramon, California; and another FoodMaxx location in Tracey, California.
- Save Mart is piloting the autonomous aisle-scanning devices as grocers test a variety of equipment designed to automate various aspects of food retailing, including order-fulfillment and checkout.
Save Mart plans to initially test the Tally robots' ability to monitor shelves to make sure items are in stock and in the proper place in the store. Later, the grocer may test software that crunches data collected by the devices to provide information on a store's inventory that can improve in-stock levels while boosting in-store and e-commerce sales, according to the press release.
The robots, which Simbe says can each scan as many 30,000 products during a day traversing a store's aisles and help retailers reduce out-of-stocks by nearly a third, also free store staff to handle other roles, like working with customers, the technology firm noted.
Save Mart's decision to employ Simbe's technology follows the decision last fall by Schnuck Markets, which has been using Tally robots since 2017, to expand the number of its stores where it operates the devices. Giant Eagle has also tested Tally robots.
Retailers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are also using Tally robots, according to Simbe. In February, Simbe said existing customer Majid Al Futtaim, which operates stores under the French Carrefour banner in the United Arab Emirates, had expanded its use of the technology to a dozen locations.
In October, Simbe introduced a new version of its device that it says is more accurate and durable than the model it replaced. The updated robot features more advanced cameras that can focus automatically and have better depth perception, enabling the unit to read product details like bar codes from further away than its predecessor.
Supermarket operators are exploring uses for Simbe's technology as the grocery industry deepens its use of automation to improve efficiency and speed up service.
In September, Save Mart deployed a fleet of small robots provided by Starship Technologies to deliver groceries from its flagship grocery store in Modesto. The devices can each transport about 20 pounds of products and make roundtrip journeys of up to 4 miles. Starship also operates robotics delivery vehicles on university campuses.
On Friday, Choice Market debuted a camera-based system at a store in Denver that allows shoppers to walk out with purchases without stopping at a checkout counter.
Also last week, Kroger officially introduced its network of robot-powered online delivery warehouses, which has been in development for more than three years. The high speed facilities, built by U.K.-based grocery robotics company Ocado, are intended to cut costs and boost e-commerce margins for the supermarket operator.