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09/23/2021

Hy-Vee adopts AI robots to reduce out-of-stocks

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Hy-Vee associate
A Hy-Vee associate stocks shelves with the aid of a Simbe Tally robot.

A regional Midwest grocer is rolling out autonomous robots that automatically scan tens of thousands of products.

Hy-Vee Inc. will deploy Simbe Robotics’ autonomous shelf-scanning “Tally” robots in stores across Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. The robots will scan items in the grocery, health and wellness aisles up to three times per day to ensure products are in stock, in the correct location, and correctly priced.

According to Simbe Robotics, by providing more frequent and accurate inventory, pricing and promotion information, Tally robots equip store associates with actionable insights that can reduce out-of-stocks by up to 30%. In addition, associates can spend less time on inventory management and focus more time on engaging with shoppers.

By leveraging this rich data and combining it with Tally’s plug-and-play software platform and APIs, Hy-Vee hopes to obtain unprecedented insights into the state of its stores, giving employees real-time recommendations to improve store operations and maximize customer satisfaction.

Tally requires no infrastructure changes to the store environment to operate effectively and is designed to strategically navigate store aisles during normal store hours, safely maneuvering alongside shoppers and employees.

Tally robots are already in Hy-Vee stores in Ankeny, Iowa, and Lincoln, Neb.; and will be rolling out to locations in Lee's Summit, Mo.; Omaha, Neb.; and Altoona, Iowa, in the coming weeks.

Another regional Midwest grocery retailer, Schnucks Markets, recently committed to a multi-year, full-scale rollout that will bring Simbe Robotics’ autonomous shelf-scanning “Tally” robots  to all 111 Schnucks locations in the U.S. The deployment, which builds on previous expansions, will make Schnucks the first grocer in the world to utilize AI-powered inventory management technology at scale.

By incorporating Simbe’s solution into chainwide operations, Schnucks said it will gain even greater visibility into store conditions, with deeper levels of business insights as the retailer prepares to adjust to the quickly evolving landscape of a post-pandemic world.

“Hy-Vee has a strong reputation for excellent customer service and an employee-first culture,” said Luke Tingley, senior VP and CIO at Hy-Vee. “By employing Tally, we can continue providing that excellent service by reducing out of stocks and empowering our store teams with real-time insights to ensure the best customer experience across the board.”

 “No other retail solution supports store teams the way Tally does. The pandemic truly created a ‘new normal’ for grocery that has illuminated the need for a greater frequency and fidelity of in-store data,” said Brad Bogolea, CEO and co-founder of Simbe Robotics. “Hy-Vee is the perfect example of thoughtfully adopting technology to improve the store experience for both customers and their teams. As retailers face a growing number of considerations, Tally provides a cost-effective solution that ensures they can continue to provide excellent customer service and create a valuable, more enjoyable working environment for their employees.”

Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, Hy-Vee Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 275 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.