3 Ways Robots Help Retailers Manage Today’s Volatile Climate


It’s been a tough few years for retailers. Over 7,500 retail stores were expected to close in 2020, while dozens of large chain retailers have filed for bankruptcy in response to COVID-19. Consumer behavior has also shifted — people are limiting in-person shopping trips, and opting for curbside pickup or direct delivery to avoid going into the store.

With e-commerce on the rise, many retailers are honing in on their digital presence and offering online perks and deals to keep customers engaged and revenue afloat.

But shifting to an online-only world isn’t realistic. Humans still crave in-person shopping experiences because many of us enjoy physically picking and choosing which products and goods we want to buy. This is optimal for businesses since customers tend to spend more when they’re in a physical store and are exposed to factors that reinforce recreational browsing, such as signs, colors and smells.

To mitigate long-term effects of the pandemic on their business, retailers must work harder to regain customer trust and confidence in in-store shopping. Retailers must not only ensure that they’re meeting government health requirements for COVID-19, but also that they are meeting customers’ rising expectations around store cleanliness, all while protecting the safety of store employees and keeping costs in check.

This is where emerging technologies like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) offer valuable benefits to retailers that are looking to optimize their go-forward strategies. They can help help retailers improve their operations across a number of key fronts:

1. Ensuring cleaning consistency and efficiency

AMR floor-scrubbing robots are enhancing cleaning efficiency and consistency at a time when cleaning has never been more important. The autonomous units can navigate safely in dynamic public environments, require little to no training or infrastructure costs, and can be deployed quickly.

Brain Corp witnessed a 24% spike in usage of robotic scrubbers during Q2, signifying just how important cleaning is today, especially in retail.

2. Handling and reporting on a variety of tasks

Robots aren’t just great for cleaning. They provide proof of work and valuable real-time data and analytics that allow retailers to optimize store operations and increase productivity (e.g., streamlining cleaning and shelf-stocking processes).

Autonomous robotic technology, for example, can support various functions including cleaning, delivering goods and products within the store, and shelf-scanning analytics, all of which are managed under one centralized, cloud-connected database.

3. Giving back time to employees

Autonomous robots also help retailers provide an enhanced customer experience by freeing up valuable time for employees. Instead of spending their time on tedious tasks like floor cleaning and hauling heavy inventory carts, workers can support customers, disinfect high-touch surfaces, take well-earned breaks as needed, and focus on more engaging and fulfilling tasks. Automating these repetitive, time-intensive tasks also increases employee satisfaction, fills in labor gaps, and reduces the potential of worker’s compensation claims.

Intelligent robots are a natural fit for retailers, offering a variety of applications that can help retailers deal with volatile work environments. Robot can bring greater safety, productivity and cost-savings to the retail industry during the pandemic and beyond.

They’re the next wave of retail innovation that will help retailers provide a better and safer customer experience and survive today’s rapidly changing retail environment.

Chris Wright is VP sales at Brain Corp.

More on Robotics at Retail