Partnerships Newsletter (内容仅提供英文版)

Case study 3: Robots are going shopping

If you are a traditional retailer, digitising a whole store seems like a complete nightmare. But what if a robot could take the hassle out of all it? That is where San Francisco-based start-up Zippedi comes in. “The robot is essentially digitising everything it sees,” says Luis Vera, Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer of Zippedi.

The company uses the scanned data to go through shelf execution, in terms of pricing, assortment, promotion issues, and offers a platform for retailers to optimise how they place and sell products, with apps placed in employees’ hands to easily implement changes. With a comprehensive scan of a store, staff are empowered by a world of data to improve store shelf execution, maximise productivity to provide a consistent customer experience and increase store sales with optimal replenishment and minimal out-of-stock items.

This digital transformation maintains on-shelf availability, price integrity, product categorisation, promotions, price changes, and supplier shelf share agreements. “If a toothpaste or deodorant is missing or in the wrong place, the staff at a store is able to rectify the situation, creating more availability of stock by highlighting shortfalls, generating a three-to five percent increase in sales,” says Vera. This is all the result of Zippedi’s solution that creates the available data by “zipping” the store with their proprietary robot and its sensors, combined with app and analytics platforms for store staff to use.

The company began when Vera, a seasoned tech entrepreneur, had a similar start-up in 2013 but the AI technology was not in place. “In 2017 I realised the technology had arrived, so we started ‘zipping’ [the process of scanning a store by robot]. Being an entrepreneur is like surfing, you need to see the wave coming, have the right timing and skill to jump right on it,” says Vera.

While many retailers might find using a robot to scan a store over the top, Vera sees it as an essential process to survive. “COVID-19 accelerated digitisation by five or ten years, and in the next three to five years, more people will shop online, and if your digitisation is not ready, it will be tough to survive,” says Vera. “Using humans to do what we do is not efficient, and you will lose all your profit. Robotics is the only solution, and retailers should use it, or risk dying,” Vera adds.

At the end of the day, whether online and offline, everything should be all about the human experience. “Make sure everything you do should be all about the customer, after that everything else will fall into place easily,” says Vera.

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