In post COVID times the already existed trend for the robotization of retail is going to be stronger and even more obvious. For instance, that statement is clearly underlined in the recent webinar of Silicon Valley Robotics:
Robots in retail:
A Simbe Robotics Inc. Tally shelf-scanning robot at a Decathlon store. What Simbe and Venrock learned from store operators was that there are plenty of essential retail tasks that humans are not very good at, and that store operators would rather not pay people to do.
This webinar (venture investors and academics representatives) determines the next characteristics for the robotisation of retail (RoR):
- the robotisation of retail will be only stronger in post-COVID times;
- the RoR industry is capital intensive;
- The retail industry is one of the most "resisting" industries in terms of innovation. It happened because they are used to solving problems through the organization of human resources, but the pressure of rent and wages leaves no choice - be robotized or die;
- industry drivers are AMAZON, WALMART and other major "whale-type" players;
- it is generally recognized that the use of robots in retail is successful;
the main niches of retail robotization are:
a) logistics and repackaging/packaging
c) small/local fulfilment centres
d) customer service (NISKA is here atm);
- the main three components of success are a CLEAR PROBLEM (the main one for Niska is the reduction of labour costs) + TECH SOLUTION (for Niska it is a 100% tested prototype) + PRICE OF SOLUTION (NISKA must achieve this position through mass production);
- one of the most attractive models for commercialization of robotic concepts is Robot as a Service (not the sale of a robot, but the provision of a system/solution for a certain monthly fee);
- the main problem of RoR start-ups is that they do not represent a complete solution but "the robot grab something and put it down somewhere", it is necessary to make a complete solution. NISKA is a rear example of a complete retail solution.
Thus, NISKA would like to persuade the following directions for technology development:
1) Unattended/unmanned retail (remote operation of the stores);
2) Development of complete turn-key RoR solutions;
3) Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), active usage of robots (functional and social) in marketing and brand extensions.