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Giant Eagle to introduce shelf-scanning robots | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Giant Eagle to introduce shelf-scanning robots

Megan Tomasic
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Simbe Robotics
Simbe Robotics is implementing Tally, a shelf scanner, into Giant Eagle stores.

Giant Eagle is joining what appears to be a growing national trend: incorporating robots into the daily routine of its grocery stores.

Going by the name Tally, the black, white and blue robot will roll up and down aisles alongside customers, counting inventory, detecting products that are running low or are out-of-stock, identifying misplaced and incorrectly facing items and validating price tags.

Tally will not replace any jobs at the supermarket, Giant Eagle spokeswoman Jannah Jablonowski told the Tribune-Review. Rather, the robot will work to aid workers, taking time-consuming tasks and giving workers more time to work with customers.

“It’s a pretty tall task for team members to commit the time to walk up and down every single aisle and make note of where product needs replenished and see if it’s in the back and available or place the reorder if it’s not,” Jablonowski said. “It’s a simple but time consuming thing. So we’re really excited. We’re viewing Tally as a solution to that.”

Jablonowski added that there are typically open positions at the majority of Giant Eagle locations that they are looking to fill with “talented, human team members … and bring the store to life.”

Created by Simbe Robotics, the robot is designed to ensure product is always on the shelves. According to the company’s website, 24% of Amazon’s current retail revenue comes from people who first tried to buy a product in-store.

Data collected by Tally will be used to streamline store performance, increase sales, maximize customer satisfaction and reduce operational expenditures, according to a news release.

Tally robots have been deployed through the pilot program at stores in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Akron areas. Tally is patrolling the shelves at the Waterworks Plaza Market District store in Pittsburgh. Two locations in Ohio already have Tally working as a test run.

“When it comes to the food retail industry, shopper experience is everything,” Jablonowski said. “If a product is unavailable at the time our customer wants to buy it, we’ve missed an opportunity and disappointed our customer.”

In July, Simbe officials announced that Tally had taken over 32 million shelf photos and analyzed over 150 million products and shelf tags, completing over 7,500 hours of fully autonomous operation since they were unveiled in 2015. The robot is used in St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets, which has 118 stores in five states. Simbe recently announced a partnership with Decathlon, a sporting goods retailer.

Jablonowski did not specify the number of Tally’s that will roam around stores, but said officials are monitoring the program and the needs of individual stores.

Giant Food Stores announced in January the implementation of Marty, a gray robot with googly eyes that identifies hazards like liquid, powder and bulk food spills. About 170 of the robots were deployed throughout Giant and Martin’s Food Markets, with completion slated for mid-2019.

“The rollout is still underway, but Marty is already a hit with our customers — we have also seen many social media postings and customer selfies with Marty,” said Ashley Flower, a Giant Food Stores spokeswoman.

Walmart announced this week it will add 1,500 autonomous floor cleaners, 300 shelf scanners, 1,200 FAST unloaders and 900 new pickup towers to stores across the country. The FAST unloaders work with the shelf scanner to scan and sort items unloaded from trucks based on priority and department. The pickup towers act as a giant vending machines for customers who place orders online with in-store pickup.

At Giant Eagle, Tally will roam the floors three times per day, scanning about 35,000 products and sending reports to store teams every 30 minutes.

“Giant Eagle is investing in cutting-edge inventory solutions to ensure the products customers want are where they expect them to be,” Brad Bogolea, Simbe CEO and co-founder, said in a release. “With Tally, Giant Eagle can leverage actionable data about what’s happening on shelves. Tally’s insights add immense value to Giant Eagle customers by improving their overall in-store experience, and to store teams by empowering them with frequent, accurate inventory information.”

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, mtomasic@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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Simbe Robotics
Simbe Robotics is implementing Tally, a shelf scanner, into Giant Eagle stores.
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