The Real Role of Robotics in Retail

Automation and robotics in retail is rapidly changing the retail landscape – so much so that there are clearly winners and losers.  I’m not talking about the war between brick and mortar stores and digital marketplaces, but rather I’m talking about the retail digital revolution where the winners are delivering greater than 4.5% comparable store/ channel sales growth compared to their brothers that have not embraced automation and robotics. Clearly automation and the deployment of robots is changing the retail landscape through the customer experience, how shoppers buy and the effect on the entire retail value chain. The gap between those who have embraced robotics and automation and those that have not is widening.

With all this change one must ask yourself “what will the future look like?” 

RSR (Retail Systems Research), sponsored by Cloudera,  just released the study, “The Real Role of Robotic Automation in Retail” based on a survey of sixty-six qualified retail respondents providing a comprehensive view of robotic automation deployment.

Three insights, of the many, that were realized:

  • Ownership
    The business as a whole owns the digital transformation journey.  The survey clearly shows that there are misconceptions between IT and Line of Business owners of the magnitude of the investment, what are the priorities of the projects and what are the expected results.  The insights are not surprising, but rather confirm the need for strong digital transformation vision and execution. Starting as a data-driven business should be the basis for the plan and Cloudera can help you understand your digitalization transformation through the lens of the data lifecycle. Understanding the needs for data acquisition, storage and storage is the bedrock for a successful implementation
  • Expectations
    From the responses in the survey it is thought that robots in retail are not the win-all, cure-all for retail.  They have their place and when placing them in the retail environment, the customer experience needs to be considered. We all have (sometimes poor) experiences with call centers, where the spoken language is not the primary language of the customer.  Ensuring that the delivered experience from robotic automation matches your customers’ expectation is key. If not, it can go horribly wrong as the call centers had to learn the hard way. For many people seeing robotic automation, in any form, is a new and sometimes unexpected experience
  • The Plan
    Retail winners have shown to be all in when they approach leveraging robots in their digital transformation efforts.  The work shows that being stuck in the middle, ie.not going all in, has worse consequences, as there is a perception of progress created. In reality money and time is not being spent on effective and productivity producing business processes or technology.  A comprehensive plan that encompasses the entire digital data lifecycle of data acquisition, storage and analytics is the cornerstone of successful execution.

The future can only be known in the future – there is no 20:20 vision of the future, only the past.  So let’s hear from the sixty-six retail executives and associates that provided us their view of the future and hear from RSR who provided actionable insights based upon this work.

Join the webinar and see the results from the RSR study “The Real Role of Robotic Automation in Retail”

David LeGrand
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