Retail & Robots

05 September 2018

Mark Schiavello , National Leader, Retail
Partner, Corporate Finance

It's no secret that Amazon has an army of robots at its warehouses to fulfill orders. At last count, Amazon had a 45,000 strong robot fleet. Moving forward, the company is seeking to deploy airborne drones to facilitate faster deliveries. The question that traditional retailers face is whether or not investing in robots to operate inside their ecosystem can actually improve business and help them stay relevant with consumers.

In this article we will unpack a unique use-case for robotics in omni retail today. Most importantly, this solution was developed by an Australian owned and operated robotics company and is available for use by Australian retailers…. Today.

The ultimate use case – product imagery for your eCommerce platform

To succeed today, retailers must play to the strengths of both offline and online. In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to US$2.3 trillion and are projected to grow to US$ 4.9 trillion in 2021.

A key ingredient to overall customer experience and spend is high quality product imagery and video. Alarmingly, 68% of all e-shopper journeys are abandoned. A key reason for abandonment is lack of product information which includes product imagery (be it poor imagery or no imagery).

For retailers seeking consistent and high quality imagery, the current journey is: (a) costly and (b) an absolute punish…. Currently the journey is this:

  • Pack our goods
  • Ship them to the studio
  • Unpack our goods
  • Engage stylists and photographers
  • Head in to post production (remove background, touch-up etc.)
  • Ship goods back to store
  • Upload photos on-line.

Sound familiar?

In my role I’m fortunate enough to meet some amazing people and experience some incredible solutions. I’m proud to advise that the following solution has been developed by an Australian owned and operated robotics company, MMAPT Pty Ltd.

The solution is currently being utilized by a number of Australian based retailers, and according to them, is solving a real problem.

Technology summary – what is it?

A robot that shoots your products, removes the background and uploads imagery and videos directly onto your e-commerce platform. No shipping, no stylists, no post-production. Just a Robot! By leveraging a robotic solution, all camera moves and shots are repeatable, delivering unparalleled consistency. All images are stored in the cloud and are accessible by all departments (PR, Marketing etc.)

Other real world examples of robots in retail

Walmart recently introduced shelf-scanning robots. The robots check inventory, prices and misplaced items to help each individual store’s inventory practices. Additionally, these robots will be collecting data – data that Walmart claims will help them improve inventory practices.

These are just two more examples of robots finding their way into retail, but they’re examples of how Robots will improve the way retailers do business.

While retail is a relatively new industry for robotics, these developing technologies represent the industry’s desire to compete and thrive in the generally declining retail marketplace. I truly believe that robotic automation will have a major impact on productivity and profit margins for retailers.