SpartanNash ramps up use of inventory-scanning robots

May 13, 2023

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Dive Brief:

  • SpartanNash announced Wednesday that it’s rolling out aisle-scanning robots from Simbe to 15 Family Fare and Martin’s Super Market stores in Indiana and Michigan.
  • The expansion comes after the retailer and distributor piloted the use of Simbe’s Tally robot at select D&W Fresh Market stores.
  • SpartanNash joins fellow retailers BJ’s Wholesale Club and Schnucks in expanding the use of Tally bots at its stores, while other retailers are deploying alternative solutions to monitor stock levels and help digitize store operations.

Dive Insight:

SpartanNash is the latest retailer to increase its use of aisle-scanning robots to collect data on product performance and stock levels. Tally, the robot being used, employs 3D computer vision technology to capture between 15,000 and 30,000 products per hour, including those found in frozen and refrigerated departments. According to Simbe’s website, the latest version of Tally, Tally 3.0, has sharper optical technology than its predecessors and uses the NVidia GPU platform to process data at the shelf edge and in the cloud.

Tally has a D&W logo on top and an introductory sign for customers that reads, “I check shelf inventory.” The bot communicates with shoppers about the tasks it is performing, such as “Stock Check!” and “Going Home.” BJ’s Wholesale Club and Schnucks have already announced plans to deploy Simbe’s aisle-scanning robots to all of their stores, and other retailers, including Hy-Vee and Save Mart, have also partnered with Simbe.

While some retailers have embraced the technology, others have not found it suitable for their needs. Walmart, for example, terminated its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics in 2020 after deciding to use different technology to monitor shelf inventory levels.

The use of Tally is expected to provide SpartanNash with better insights into its product performance and stock levels, which will be used to enhance the shopping experience for customers. It is part of a growing trend of retailers deploying robots and other technologies to digitize store operations and streamline inventory management.

As retailers continue to explore new technologies to improve store operations, the use of robots like Tally is likely to become more widespread. These robots provide a cost-effective and efficient means of collecting data on product performance and stock levels, helping retailers to optimize their store layouts and ensure that customers can always find the products they need.