Robot workers to roam St. Louis Schnucks stores

ST. LOUIS — Don't be surprised if you run into a robot during your next trip to the grocery store. Schnucks is now using a slender robot named "Tally" to roam store aisles looking for out-of-stock items and verifying prices.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the robot has two blinking eyes on a digital screen to make the robot appear friendly.

Right now, "Tally" is being tested at the Schnucks store off Clayton road in Richmond Heights but more robots will be coming to the stores in Town and Country and Kirkwood in the coming weeks.

The robot is made by Simbe Robotics.  They say that the robot, "Performs the repetitive and laborious tasks of auditing shelves for out-of-stock items, low stock items, misplaced items, and pricing errors.  Tally operates safely during normal store hours alongside shoppers and employees."

A press release from the company says that global retailers lose nearly $450 billion annually as a result of out-of-stock items, empty shelves, and other in-store inconsistencies. Their robot, announced in 2015, is that shelf auditing system.  Amazon and Walmart have also started testing and using similar systems.

It is not clear what this means for the Schnucks employees.  A representative from Schnucks tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that this robot pilot program is not a job-cutting measure.   The robot simply does inventory.  It still takes a person to order merchandise and receive it from the warehouse.

Schnucks started offeringan online ordering and delivery service this February at 29 of its stores in Missouri and Illinois. They are partnering with Instacart to offer what’s called “Schnucks Delivers.’” An Instacart spokesperson told our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Straub’s, Shop ’n Save, Whole Foods Market, Costco, and Petco are also starting online ordering.

Based in San Francisco, Instacart provides delivery service for retailers across the country. The Post-Dispatch reports that  Instacart plans to hire at least 50 people in the St. Louis area.

You will find the new service at Schnucksdelivers.com. Instacart provides the software, shoppers and drivers.