Friday, 20 January 2017 12:28

‘Shelfie’ robot launched for retail, supermarket stock management

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Australian-based global tech and robotics company Lakeba has launched an in-store robot it says is able to monitor and help intelligently manage stock levels in retail outlets and supermarkets.

According to Lakeba its robot — dubbed "Shelfie" — also available as a drone or hand-held device, should help transform the retail sector by shaving costs and boosting revenues.

The robot melds robotic technologies with image capturing and data analytics running on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Shelfie scans shelves and price tickets, delivering real-time stock reporting via the Dashboard which is built on Microsoft Power BI to help identify sales trends and provide intelligent insights to optimise merchandise layouts.

Lakeba cites a study from IHL Group suggesting global retailers forego US$1.1 trillion of revenue each year because they run out of stock of popular items, or are overstocked with unwanted product.

According to the study, Shelfie tackles the problem by providing real-time transparency regarding in-store demand.

Darren Younger, Shelfie chief executive and non-executive director at Lakeba, says that not only can retailers shave costs by tackling under or overstocking issues, they can, for the first time, measure how quickly stock gaps are addressed, or new merchandise planograms and ticketing are rolled out – giving them a metric to manage and improve.

“We call this the Shelfie Index – a 0-100 score based on store stock, and layout. We forecast that beyond optimising existing revenue chains, Shelfie can deliver cost savings of up to $300,000 per store per year – for a grocery retailer operating hundreds of stores it can quickly equate to a sizeable saving, freeing up time and resource to be invested in other operational areas.”

Marcy Larsen, retail lead at Microsoft Australia, says that basing the solution on Azure allows Shelfie to scale rapidly and be made available internationally.

“The rich and growing array of Azure services also supports Lakeba’s plans to integrate Shelfie with supply chain management solutions and add in more cognitive services injecting additional intelligence into retail.

“Microsoft Azure is the cornerstone of Shelfie, which leverages Active Directory, SQL Database and Content Delivery Network. This supports image capture and data analysis in real-time.

“In the future Shelfie will be integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365 to automate stock ordering – and Azure’s rich range of machine learning and cognitive services will allow Lakeba to create solutions that will truly transform retail.”

According to Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman, the Shelfie robot will “revolutionise retailer’s ability to review stock levels, ensure that out of stocks are kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring that retailers are able to meet customer demands by understanding what products are the premium selling products, thereby ensuring that retailers have stock as and when required”.

“The Shelfie robot is an innovation developed by Australians that will revolutionise supermarkets ability to forecast stock requirements both in Australia and overseas retailers.”

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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