Read another article from Georges Mirza on the topic: Robots in Grocery Retail: The Questions You Need to Ask When Adopting
Return on the investment
There is another element that we did not discuss yet. It involves the route to take in order to achieve results.
What will it take and how healthy is the company to sustain itself long term and provide a return on the money they promised their investors?
Unfortunately, there has been a focus on the hardware pizzazz and a lack of key pedigree crucial to complete the solution.
Several disruptors joined the game, with a fraction of the investment and notoriety of others that were able to progress and bypass companies that established themselves as the main players to win market share. These disruptors had the maturity to prioritize scale and insights early on and understood the retail challenges well.
My counsel for retailers that understand the need to bring robotic automation to center store: look again before you commit; you will be surprised.
These new companies have impressed me and proven my theory that over time you can build it quicker and at reduced cost. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace, faster than retailers are used to, adapting has not been easy for them and robot capabilities are not maturing fast enough.
A Vision for the future
The new entries focused on scalability and insight from day one. As a result, they built a system to sustain current challenges with the ability to grow more rapidly because they prioritized early.
The other variable is not just what you can do today, it’s what are you prepared to do for tomorrow. You must understand the roll out of robotics in retail at the ground level. Do you have that vision, desire, and ability?
Established solution companies, from hardware to insights, like JDA, NCR, Nielsen, Zebra Technologies and others are wise to understand the impact of robots at retail to their business model. They would be well advised to monitor and ensure readiness to participate.
Make no mistake, this is a major paradigm shift to all in the retail ecosystem.
Time to weigh the pros and cons of each of the players as they struggle to move beyond the hardware and navigation capabilities. Equipped with in-depth industry knowledge and experience, I am seeking the "secret sauce" if you will and in my opinion, only two companies possess it.
The next year will be decisive and the field will start to narrow. The outcome of the Walmart battleground will reveal the hallelujah moment for some and the missing of the boat for others.
What should you do? Your homework, study the pros and cons of each, understand where they are today and their vision for tomorrow and then decide which solution is here to stay and is right for you…for the time being that is.