Retail Robotics : In-Store Customer Services

Retailers are planning and testing robots in stores to enable shoppers to find merchandise they are looking for. For instance, home enhancement retailer Lowe’s presented the LoweBot in 2016 at its stores in San Francisco and plans to extend the preliminaries in 2017 to stores in San Jose. LoweBot robots have been developed by Fellow Robots in collaboration with Lowe’s. Retail robotics software is designed to automate and enhance sales operations processes by identifying and conversing with internet leads, and customers. It is expected that artificial intelligence, analytics and machine-learning combined with robotics can drive customer engagement to the next level. Retail robotics can cover and be applied to a variety of retail tasks, broken down into the following sub-categories:

  • Sales and CRM Applications
  • Customer Recommendations
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics and Delivery
  • Payments and Payment Services

Innovation Summary: Store shoppers can ask LoweBot — by talking or using a touch screen—where to search for stuffs they require inside the store. Customers can also ask the robot some customer service questions that would have required store executives to answer that. Additionally, the robot performs constant stock checks as it travels down the store paths. The data gathered by LoweBot can be analysed to identify the strategic insights, trends and demand.

Before Lowe’s started this test at its own stores, the organization tried out the concept as early as 2014 at its Orchard Supply Hardware subsidiary in San Jose with the OSHbot. The LoweBot robots can move up to shoppers, welcomes them, and ask them to whether it can find stuffs in the store. If, the customer brought a case of what they are searching for, for example an extra part, they can hold it before a camera built within the robot. Expecting that the item is visually perceived by the robot and is in stock, OSHbot can lead the customer to the appropriate shelf to find it.

Pradeep Singh, 
Sr. Research Analyst,
Infoholic Research