The last edition of Groceryshop, which took place on September 14-17 in Las Vegas, USA was a great occasion to discover the latest technologies emerged in the grocery industry. Start-ups were the main protagonist, with ideas that could change the retail landscape very soon.
For example, RightHand Robotics introduced its RightPick Robot, a combined hardware and software solution that handles the key task of picking individual items without damaging them. The robot comes with a sensor to facilitate order accuracy and work at high speed. The company’s final goal is to optimize the supply chain process replacing gradually the human presence and reducing costs.
In the meantime, mobile company AT&T, in collaboration with the start-up Aira, developed special tech-enabled glasses and a mobile app to improve the in-store experience. Thanks to this idea, customers can speak with trained professionals who will be able to see the person’s surroundings through a camera and give suggestions about their shopping session. Interesting to note that there are no infrastructure or maintenance costs associated with this technology: retailers will simply need to start collaborating with the start-up, and establish a dedicated area to access the service.
Another new-entry came from Pensa Systems which presented a new drone designed to optimize the inventory management system. The machine is programmed to fly around the store checking for out-of-stock products and delivering reports on the inventory status. Founder Richard Schwartz said that the drone’s ability to move in all directions helps its camera to better identify products and empty spaces on shelves.
Checkout innovation startup Veeve presented a smart cart that uses a computer vision to identify products placed inside — and taken out of — the basket. The carts are made of composite materials and weigh less than a traditional grocery cart, making them a breeze to push around. If the system fails to register a product, shoppers can always scan the barcode. Veeve carts are highly customizable. Customers check in with the cart by scanning a QR code or their loyalty card. The company is currently testing with an undisclosed grocer in the Seattle area.
Finally, the start-up Robomart revealed its driverless vehicle stocked with fresh grocery items, that customers will be able to summon with a tap on their mobiles. The autonomous car will arrive in just a few minutes, and shoppers will be able to select their items and pay. The vehicle, which travels local roads at about 25 miles per hour, includes a curated assortment determined by the retailer using it. At the moment the company is working with Boston-based retailer Stop & Shop, but other partnerships will be announced soon.