Gartner research reveals growth for smart robots in retail


A recent Gartner report details that ‘Retailers are scaling up smart robots to support flexibility and labour optimisation in physical stores for unified commerce execution’.

GreyOrange, the provider of modern software and systems for modern fulfilment, is featured in the report for its variety of smart robots that help retailers improve how they get products to buyers, whether through stores, distribution centers or emerging options such as localized micro fulfilment centres.

The report, ‘Market Guide for Smart Robots in Retail’, led by Keslie Marian, notes that “the critical need to optimise costs, due to labour shortages and minimum wage increases, is driving continued retailer interest and investment in smart robots throughout 2021.” Continued investment in smart robot technology will further optimise costs while releasing human resources for more revenue-generating activities, allowing for better allocation of both resources and time.

Additional insights from the report, written by Gartner analyst Kelsie Marian, include:

  • “Over the next year we expect pilots and implementations of smart robots in physical stores and warehouse environments to persist. As a result, they will continue to garner significant attention and interest from both retailers and consumers alike.”
  • “Smart robots can be added incrementally and deliver significant value, without large-scale deployment or disruption. A single robot can deliver a significant return on investment; therefore, investments can be incremental over several years.”
  • “Smart robots enable real-time data capture and analysis essential for unified commerce execution. However, the data must also be connected to store and back-office systems to realize full potential."

“Consumer expectations are redefining both the retail environment and the nodes of distribution and fulfilment. Every point in the supply network – manufacturers, warehouses, stores – is now a fulfilment node,” said Akash Gupta, co-founder and chief technology officer, GreyOrange. “Smart robot technology must be adaptable to dark stores and micro fulfilment centres, nodes that are constantly evolving in response to changing market demands.”

Micro fulfillment centers (MFCs) are distributed, localized, strategically targeted fulfilment centres that are closer to where buyers live and work so retailers can meet consumer demand for delivery speed and convenience while also reducing fulfillment costs. GreyOrange modernizes both micro and macro fulfilment operations by combining smart robots with AI-driven GreyMatter cloud software. GreyMatter continuously prioritises decisions and workflows to efficiently orchestrate tasks, time and teams of people and robots to optimise performance across any distribution centre, no matter the size.

GreyMatter works with the GreyOrange Ranger Robot Series (as well as robots and equipment from other companies) to feed real-time data into always-solving algorithms that calculate each next-best decision, whether solving for everyday omnichannel performance or solving for peak period commitments. By optimising how inventory is picked, packed and shipped in real time, companies can make and keep more promises to customers and stores, accelerate throughput, lower costs, meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and protect the safety of people and inventory.

1. Gartner “Market Guide for Smart Robots in Retail” by Kelsie Marian; 26 July 2021

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