Russian chain Lenta employed seven robots in its Moscow-based supermarkets. The Promobots will greet the returning customers by name, show new products and help with discounts.
Greet customers personally
Lenta is Russia’s second largest hypermarket chain and it has now introduced a robot in seven of its supermarkets. The robot move entirely independent and will engage customers. They will share information about discounts and other promotions, but also demonstrate new products. Thanks to facial recognition softare, they can even recognize the returning customers and greet them personally.
It is the first time autonomous service robots have been deployed in such high numbers in a retail environment, according to the Promobot developers. Robots have been used for a while, but more to fulfill repetitive chores with no actual customer contact: Ahold Delhaize subsidiary, Giant, introduced Marty this past summer. This robot continuously checks the prices and supplies across the store. He also makes sure there are no dangers in the store, like slippery floors or wobbly piles. Walmart is currently engaged in the largest robot-related trial: robots are scanning its aisles in fifty stores.
Mainly for major self-service stores
Whenever robots are used for customer interaction, the pilots are often temporary and small-scale, like the grocery-carrying robot at Auchan’s store in Englos; the order robot at KFC in Shanghai or the Pepper trial at Pizza Hut and Carrefour in Paris.
Consultancy firm Roland Berger performed a study on retail robotics and pointed out that these are mainly for major stores with a huge product range and self-service as the prime approach. Electronics and DIY are two other industries that could benefit from robots. In luxury for instance, people still expect a more personal, human approach.