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Giant Eagle will bring robots into select stores

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Giant Eagle has announced a pilot program to bring shelf-scanning robots into select stores. The pilot is being run in partnership  with inventory automation firm Simbe Robotics, maker of Tally, an autonomous shelf scanning and inventory analytics platform. 

The pilot will affect Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Akron stores.

Digital inventory auditing and management has become a major growth area in the automation sector as brick-and-mortars attempt to streamline operations and fight back against ecommerce. According to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research and commissioned by robotics company Bossa Nova, a Simbe competitor, inventory management issues account for more lost revenue than theft

Shelf-scanning robots roam stores autonomously and quickly scan merchandise on shelves using machine vision or RFID readers, a job traditionally performed by store clerks to keep track of inventory. The robots do this far more comprehensively and quickly, giving stores a near-real-time snapshot of inventory on the shelves. By analyzing the data to determine things like item popularity at a given time of day or in a given shelf location, retailers gain insights into customer behavior and product trends. 

As I’ve written, analytics like that, and not just convenience, have helped e-commerce startups torpedo many brick & mortar giants. Shelf-scanning robots are a direct response to help level the playing field.

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