I Robot, I Retail

I Robot, I Retail

I Robot, I Retail 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Artificial intelligence has been making its way into retail for a while, but now this robotic form is taking on humanistic characteristics. From the grocery aisle to the fitting room floor of retail to the shifts that human employees cannot serve, here is a look at a few retailers who are adding innovation and convenience in the form of automation.


With Best Buy’s mission to match people with inspiring experiences through technology, CHLOE is the embodiment of that connection between Best Buy’s customers and those experiences. CHLOE (Computerized Helper to Locate & Order Everything) is an automated retail solution that helps customers quickly browse and purchase movies, music, pre-owned games and convenience items like headphones and chargers after hours.

Two self-service kiosks are strategically located outside a New York city store vestibule to allow customers to shop for these items 24/7. Within the store entry, six more self-service kiosks allow customers to shop all at once, while digital screens play trailers, clips, and promotions related to selected product. CHLOE’s human characteristics come into view as she goes about her work locating, organizing or restocking product. Through quirks and mannerisms CHLOE becomes relatable to customers on a personal level, whether it’s dancing to Top 10 hits or just a brief pause and a wave, or her ohhs and ahhs. While her moves may be mechanical, there’s no question CHLOE has enthusiasm for the job at hand. She combines convenience and entertainment to provide shoppers with a surprisingly enjoyable experience.


Meet Pepper. We spotted her schmoozing all the “BIG” retail attendees on the NRF expo floor. Don’t just call her a glorified tablet holder and barcode scanner. Pepper’s software makes timely and relevant recommendations based upon body shape and fashion styles. Consider retailers where customers need feedback and input on fashion, but don’t want or need the employee judgment. With sites like Amazon and popular ecommerce sites, consumers are use to automated recommendations dishing out recommendations on “you might like this if you like that.”

Bringing that into the retail space, Pepper helps you to uncover your interests in a no judgment zone. Ever felt compelled to pretend you like something a store associate brought you, but have no interest in actually purchasing, let alone feel the need to try on? Set aside shoppers remorse and feel free from hurting the (artificial) feelings of Pepper. Retailers might just find that Pepper’s no pressure approach adds to a consumer comfort level missing from the retail experience.


Let’s be real, the hardware store can be a difficult store to navigate. Even with the best wayfinding and signage, finding what you’re looking for can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. To add an element of convenience and enhance the in-store experience, Lowe’s Innovation Labs introduced OSHbot at their San Jose Orchard Supply Hardware store.

Complete with a programmed map of the store, OSHbot can help customers quickly find what they’re looking for. Say you need a replacement bulb for your refrigerator, you simply hold up the item to a 3D scanning viewfinder, and OSHbot will confirm what the product is and take you to its location in-store.

With built in capabilities to not only translate, but also speak multiple languages, OSHbot helps break down the communication barriers that customers might experience in a traditional store setting. And while some might wonder if this reduces the importance, of the store associate, OSHbot is meant to work alongside employees helping in high traffic times or during seasonal peaks. OSHbot can also tap into employees at other locations, and serve as an extension for employees to look up complex product information.

Takeaway: The key is not replacing humans, as we know consumers can only define true connection with individuals, but instead uncovering how this new form of robotic technology can enhance the retail experience. The future of robotics will become adaptive. Data will be used to respond to unique, personal preferences, not to just “automate.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg | AldebaranLowe’s


A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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