- Wakefern Food Corp. is expanding its partnership with Simbe Robotics by bringing the company’s AI and robotics technology to more ShopRite stores, according to a Thursday announcement.
- The expansion builds on a successful pilot between Wakefern and Simbe through which the retailer-owned cooperative tested the technology in more than 20 stores.
- The announcement comes as Wakefern implements more in-store technology features and Simbe continues to ramp up partnerships beyond midsize retailers.
Simbe’s AI and robotics technology brings Wakefern real-time insights on inventory and operations and helps reduce out-of-stock rates and maximize inventory availability, according to the press release.
The pilot between the two companies launched in April 2022, when Wakefern deployed Tally, Simbe’s aisle-scanning inventory robot, at several ShopRite locations. Tally autonomously journeys through the store and uses computer vision to scan and determine which products are on shelves and notify workers when items are out of stock. Tally’s work allows staff members to focus more on “customer-facing work,” the announcement noted.
“Tally has proven to be the ideal shelf-intelligence solution for our members as it’s been able to roll right into our technology ecosystem, sending real-time shelf condition data directly to retail associates’ handheld devices,” said Charles McWeeney, vice president of technology, innovation and strategy at Wakefern, in a statement.
Tally achieves a return on investment within 60 days, according to the press release, and requires only one day to set up.
Wakefern has taken significant steps to bolster its use of in-store technology this year. In January, the company unveiled an autonomous convenience store with frictionless checkout technology at its corporate campus in Edison, New Jersey. In May, Wakefern placed tech-enabled sampling kiosks at 95 ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer locations.
Last month, Simbe, which has partnerships with Schnucks Markets, SpartanNash and BJ’s Wholesale Club, announced that it raised $28 million in a Series B equity financing round. The company plans to use the funds to expands its global customer base and build on its operations to partner with larger companies.