California-based Vallarta Supermarkets is piloting autonomous robots in five locations in Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernadino counties to support employees by identifying in-store hazards. The retailer will test inventory management technology in a sixth store. In addition to supporting its employees during the current labor shortage, Vallarta will use the robots to gather real-time inventory data, an important capability as retail continues to grapple with supply chain challenges.
The 53-store regional supermarket chain hopes to relieve workers of these tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on customer service while also collecting valuable consumer data to improve its customer experience and operations.
Through a partnership with Jabil’s Badger Technologies division, Vallarta will test Badger Retail InSpect technology, which identifies threats to customer safety such as spills of liquids, powders and food items. Once a robot identifies a hazard, it triggers a public-address system notification and sends mobile pulse alerts while the robot takes and stores images in Vallarta’s archives. By addressing threats quickly, Vallarta hopes to protect customers by avoiding slip-and-fall accidents.
The robots with inventory management capabilities use Badger Retail InSight to detect out-of-stock products, and then generate a list of missing, misplaced or mispriced products through cloud-based analytics and reporting software.
“Providing our customers with a clean, safe environment is critical to our customers’ experience,” said Steve Netherton, CIO and VP of Continuous Improvement at Vallarta Supermarkets in a statement. “When we look at where to invest in innovative technologies, improving store operations is always a high priority. The Badger Technologies robots are helping us set new standards in store safety and cleanliness while ensuring a superlative shopping experience.”