Schnucks says new in-store robot will not take jobs away from people

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. – An aisle-roving robot that monitors store shelves is getting a test run at the Schnucks on Clayton Road in Richmond Heights.

“We brought (Tally) in because we are trying to improve the customer experience,” said Dave Steck, Schnucks vice president of IT. “Make sure items we're supposed to have in stock are in stock.”

Tally moves up and down aisles, capturing high quality images of shelves on its five HD cameras. Tally recognizes if an item is out, a price marked wrong, or put in the wrong place.

Brad Bogolea, the CEO of Simbea Robotics, said this is the first Tally in Missouri, but Schnucks stores on Woods Mill and Manchester roads could each be seeing one soon.

“Our goal was to build robots that help people in the enterprise environment and ultimately that led us to retail space and helping them manage the state of inventory in their store,” Bogolea said.

And while some customers worry the robot could take jobs away from human beings, Steck said Tally doesn’t have arms or the ability to stock the shelves. It still requires the “people process” to get items on a shelf.

“That’s the thing behind this; not going to do that,” Steck said. “It’s to help us be more efficient for customer and getting product to customer.”

Schnucks and Simbea have also engaged Washington University so students and faculty can benefit from these pilot learnings and also look for new ways of driving retail analytics.

“Once people understand the value it provides, the goal is to help create a better experience,” Bogolea said.