The Future of Robots in Retail
Robots were first used in 1961 by General Motors to perform repetitive manufacturing tasks. These days, online retailer Amazon is said to have an army of more than 100,000 robots in its warehouses. Is this a sign of things to come?
Robots perform different functions for stores of any size. They can be sources of general information. Some robots work like sales associates. Beyond the realm of retail, they serve in other consumer-facing industries like hospitals.
Companies that have shifted to automation realize the many benefits of working with bots. Aside from the labor cost savings, there are other benefits like productivity enhancement. Moreover, bots are very accurate. They don’t make mistakes like their human counterparts.
Robots in retail
Customer service may be the most common use of robots in retail. Whether online or over the phone, AI-powered interfaces are now handling customer queries. It would only be a matter of time to see a robot greeting shoppers in a brick and mortar store. Bots will also respond to customer complaints and even fetch products for shoppers.
Radio frequency identification or RFID is one of the major growth areas of robotics for retail. RFID has been around but it is only now that retailers are realizing the benefits of this technology. With RFID, retailers can perform more regular inventory. The typical annual physical count of inventory can be done daily or even hourly.
As most retailers know, inventory accuracy is critical. It not only helps them determine which stuff to order; it also makes it easier to find any merchandise.
Then there are the AI-powered couriers. Amazon, in fact, has been testing robot couriers. Restaurants are also testing bots courier in real-world situations.
The future of bots in retail
With the emergence of the Generation Z, robotics in retail is predicted to further grow. Millennials are more accepting of bots than any other generation. It is predicted that robots will become smart shopping agents in the future. They will not only greet shoppers, but also walk customer to the shelf and help them quickly find the product they need.