Zebra’s SmartSight inventory robot keeps an eye on store shelves

How many times have you gone into a store and found the shelves need restocking of the very item you want? This is a frequent problem, and it’s difficult, especially in larger retail establishments, to keep on top of stocking requirements. Zebra Technologies has a solution: a robot that scans the shelves and reports stock gaps to human associates.

The SmartSight robot is a hardware, software and services solution that roams the aisles of the store checking the shelves, using a combination of computer vision, machine learning, workflow automation and robotic capabilities. It can find inventory problems, pricing glitches and display issues. When it finds a problem, it sends a message to human associates via a Zebra mobile computer with the location and nature of the issue.

The robot takes advantage of Zebra’s EMA50 mobile automation technology and links to other store systems, including inventory and online ordering systems. Zebra claims it increases available inventory by 95%, while reducing human time spent wandering the aisles to do inventory manually by an average of 65 hours per week.

While it will likely reduce the number of humans required to perform this type of task, Zebra’s senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Mobile Computing, Joe White, says it’s not always easy to find people to fill these types of positions.

“SmartSight and the EMA50 were developed to help retailers fully capitalize on the opportunities presented by the on-demand economy despite heightened competition and ongoing labor shortage concerns,” White said in a statement.

This is a solution that takes advantage of robotics to help humans keep store shelves stocked and find other issues. The SmartSight robot will be available on a subscription basis starting later this quarter. That means retailers won’t have to worry about owning and maintaining the robot. If anything goes wrong, Zebra would be responsible for fixing it.

Zebra made the announcement at the NRF 2020 conference taking place this week in New York City.

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