Sam’s Club Completes Chain-Wide Deployment of Inventory Scanning Bots

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Diving brief:

  • Sam’s Club announced on Thursday that it has finalized its chain-wide rollout of Inventory Scan automated robots, according to a Press release.
  • The rollout, originally announced in late January, involved adding new inventory scanning technology to the nearly 600 autonomous floor cleaning robots that already roam Sam’s Club’s fleet of around 600 stores. These now, dual-function robots can collect data on product availability and prices while cleaning floors.
  • The wholesaler’s efforts come at a time when its parent company, Walmart, is making progress further into the technology space of automation and artificial intelligence.

Overview of the dive:

The new inventory analytics tower is intended to provide data such as price verification and accuracy, planogram compliance, product location and stock levels to club managers, Sam’s Club noted.

“These scrubbers help associates ensure products are on sale, priced right and findable, which ultimately makes it easier to engage directly with our members,” said Todd Garner, vice president of product management. in club at Sam’s Club, in the press release.

The original floor cleaning robots, made by industrial cleaning equipment supplier Tennant Company, and now the inventory scanner that tops it are powered by BrainOS, Brain Corp’s AI operating system, according to the ‘announcement.

In recent years, grocers have focused on finding technology solutions that can help free associates from mundane inventory tracking and provide more efficient processes for closely tracking prices and stock-outs. Some retailers such as Schnuck Markets and Hy-Vee have turned to robots to scour their aisles for inventory data.

Others have researched different solutions to collect shelf-level data. Twin Cities grocery chain Lunds & Byerlys announced this year that it would use handheld scanners equipped with software from Pensa Systems, which the tech company says is cheaper than aisle-scanning robots and cameras. In 2020, Walmart’s contract with Bossa Nova Robotics ended, halting the retailer’s plans to use the roaming robots to track shelf inventory.

Walmart is also implementing more AI technology. The retail giant announced in June its intention to build four high-tech distribution centerscomplemented by automation, machine learning and robotics, over the next three years.

In October, Walmart also announced its acquisition of an online grocery automation business Innovation Alert with the intention of using its Alphabot system to “store, retrieve and distribute orders by moving horizontally, laterally and vertically through three temperature zones without any elevators or conveyors”.

Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting.

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