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Can ‘Smiley’ the Robot Sell More Candy at ShopRite?

Can ‘Smiley’ the Robot Sell More Candy at ShopRite?
Smiley will display a variety of Mars Wrigley products typically found at the checkout to shoppers mingling throughout Shoprite.

Get ready for more grocery store robots — in this case, a robot with a cute name selling items normally sold at checkout.

Mars Wrigley said that it is working with retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. and robotics provider Savioke to deploy the robot at a ShopRite store in Monroe, New York. The new robot, named Smiley, displays and delivers items normally found at checkout to customers throughout the store. So far, the robot does not actually sell any items. 

Smiley will display a variety of Mars Wrigley products typically found at the checkout to shoppers mingling throughout the Shoprite store. In addition, the Smiley’s actions can be quickly and easily modified to optimize engagement, support store promotions and deploy new behaviors. Smiley can also detect the number of people in its vicinity and display social distancing messages. During this initial phase, the companies will work together to understand how to best inspire impulse purchases wherever shoppers are located within the store.

Smiley, true to its name, features catchy tunes and dancing as it makes its rounds through the store offering treats for sale. Smiley uses the latest in self-driving technology to ensure safe operation and includes sanitation wipes to safeguard shoppers. This pilot was enabled by Mars Wrigley’s Launchpad program, a digital innovation program established in 2017. Launchpad focuses on innovating the ways in which Mars Wrigley markets and sells its iconic brand through meaningful partnerships with startups.

To date, Launchpad has delivered 60 pilots through actively assessing and engaging with over 300 startups.

Research has shown that 78% of shoppers are choosing self-checkout for speed and convenience. As a result, traditional shopping patterns at checkout are shifting — especially when it comes to the last minute, impulse purchase. Mars Wrigley and Wakefern are using Smiley to enhance the in-store shopping experience and drive engagement beyond the checkout aisle by bringing checkout items to people in other parts of the store.

“As a Treats & Snacks category leader, we know that while trips to stores are becoming more focused and retailers are moving to more seamless in-store shopping experiences, shoppers still want to be surprised or indulge in impulse purchases,” said Matt Tice, director of grocery category leadership at Mars Wrigley. “Introducing innovative solutions like Smiley will help retailers shake up traditional merchandising, improve their consumers’ shopping experience and drive sales.”

“We are excited to welcome Smiley to the ShopRite in Monroe,” said Karen Meleta, chief communications officer for Wakefern. “This technology, which we are testing at the store, provides another way to help customers shop — and it’s fun.”

The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, Keasbey, New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corp. comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate more than 363 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace, Gourmet Garage and Dearborn Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The company is No. 25 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 listing of North America’s top retailers of food and consumables.

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