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Smart inventory management provides retailers with real-time data

Smart inventory management provides retailers with real-time data
Utilizing smart inventory management, like autonomous inventory robots, smart shelves and RFID, is helping retailers become more operationally efficient and reduce shrinkage.
Smart inventory management is enabling retailers to make informed decisions based on real-time inventory data. Today, as the retail market shifts more toward omnichannel and cross-selling, the need for accurate data has become more important than ever for retailers to make informed decisions.

“Smart or real-time inventory is an innovative way to control cost and operations using data to minimize inefficiencies,” said Sergio Ramos Jubierre, Product Manager for Stockbot and Head of Retail at Pal Robotics.

Traditional inventory management is done by hand, which Jubierre notes is only appropriate for small retailers (i.e., less than 500 square meters). However, on a bigger scale this method is costly and time consuming, as well as more prone to human error. By automating the inventory process retailers can not only save time and money, but also increase operational efficiency and reduce the dreaded retail shrink. In fact, a recent report estimates the global retail automation market will reach US$19 billion by 2023, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Autonomous inventory robots provide real-time data

Autonomous robots have found their way into an entire gamut of industries, including retail. Several robotics companies have developed autonomous inventory robots specifically to help retailers automate the inventory process and provide a plethora of other valuable data.
Sergio Ramos Jubierre, Product
Manager for Stockbot,
Head of Retail, Pal Robotics

Pal Robotics created Stockbot, its autonomous inventory-taking robot system for retail. Equipped with RFID and a vision camera, Stockbot provides retailers with the necessary data to make informed inventory decisions. The robot is able to autonomously move around and perform inventory while the shop is open with customers. Furthermore, it does not require any additional equipment or complicated setup.

“Due to the high amount of data Stockbot is able to generate it has a positive impact on customers, employees and management,” Jubierre said. “By being able to localize products Stockbot positively influences the the in-shop customer experience, and, therefore, the brand reputation as well.”

Smart shelves tell businesses when to restock

Smart shelves have been around since the early 2000s and have become an alternative emerging technology in the retail business. By utilizing various types of sensors (e.g., light, optical, weight, etc.), smart shelves not only keep track of current stock availability but can also measure customer interest and enhance the in-store shopping experience.

Recently Amazon launched the Dash Smart Shelf aimed at small businesses. The shelf has a built-in scale that can be set up to automatically place orders with Amazon to restock when supplies are low; alternatively, it can send notifications to alert the business if automatic ordering is not wanted.

Kroger, the US’s largest supermarket chain and world’s fifth-largest retailer, partnered with Microsoft to develop its EDGE smart shelf. The shelf is powered by Microsoft Azure and connects to IoT devices. The technology aims to enhance the grocery shopping experience by connecting to the customer’s smartphone shopping list and highlighting similar items on the shelf. It also allows Kroger to better manage its inventory and eliminate paper and tags by enabling stores to quickly change prices on digital displays.

Analytics predict when to reorder

Retail analytics are often integrated with a store’s point-of-sales (POS) system, analyzing data to help retailers better optimize their inventory and make pricing decisions. The National Retail Federation’s 2019 National Retail Security Survey reported that 55.6 percent of retailers surveyed have already implemented some kind of POS analytics across all its stores.

“Analytics are now available closer to the retailer decision maker due to the ability to have more computing and cleverer analytics software close to the data user,” said Harley Feldman, Co-Founder and CMO of Seeonic. Feldman pointed out that more analyzed data will become available to retailers as analytics algorithms improve and computer processing power grows. He added that data capture will also continue to improve as better RFID tags are created to deal with distance, metal and liquids.

Product Adopted:
Retail, Retail
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