Minnesota grocer automates shelf inventory tracking

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Lunds & Byerlys is applying AI to shelf management.

Lund Food Holdings is obtaining near-real-time access to actual shelf inventory conditions.

The parent company of Lunds & Byerlys, a regional Minnesota grocery chain with 28 stores in and around the Twin Cities metro region, is deploying the Pensa Systems automated retail shelf intelligence solution in every Lunds & Byerlys location. Using computer vision and artificial intelligence to scan all products and categories across all stores, the retailer seeks to improve sales, optimize labor, and maximize the quality of its customer experience.

Specifically, Lunds & Byerlys intends near-real-time scanning of shelf inventory to enable it to provide an improved omnichannel experience that reduces product substitutions based on a more accurate e-commerce catalog. The retailer also plans to increase associate efficiency through more effective omnichannel product picking and faster, more accurate inventory gap scanning; as well as generally improve in-stock levels.

Lunds & Byerlys store staff will scan every store shelf and product category using Pensa’s app on Zebra mobile devices. Artificial intelligence (AI)-based Pensa technology will then capture and automatically analyze video streams of hundreds of individual product images to flag stockouts, optimize item availability, and improve demand forecasting and omnichannel delivery.

Associates can scan a single aisle in seconds to receive near-real-time analysis in near real-time. The Pensa solution, which requires no infrastructure or hardware, will serve as Lunds & Byerlys’ system of record for shelf key performance indicators (KPIs) moving forward.

In addition, CPG brands that sell their products at Lunds & Byerlys can leverage the out-of-stock and share-of-shelf metrics the retailer generates to assist with planogram compliance, merchandising effectiveness, demand and sales forecasting, rationalization of product categories and portfolios, and speed to shelf for new items.

Wakefern automates shelf tracking – with robots

Wakefern Food Corp., which operates the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners, is taking a slightly different approach by piloting Simbe Robotics autonomous shelf-scanning “Tally” robots. The robots autonomously roam store aisles up to three times per day, leveraging computer vision technology to scan products to ensure they are in-stock, in the correct location, and accurately priced on the sales floor.

[Read more: Shop Rite parent to monitor store shelves with AI robots]

“For more than three generations, we’ve been committed to exceptionally high standards in everything we do – extraordinary food, passionate employees with expertise, and ultimately, an exceptional customer experience,” said Curtis Funk, Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Lunds & Byerlys. “We’re excited to deploy Pensa’s innovative shelf intelligence solution throughout our stores so that we can ensure that when our customers walk down our aisles, the products they love are on the shelf.”

“We’re very excited to partner with Lunds & Byerlys, a premier grocery brand, to provide a highly accurate and near-real time view of what’s actually on store shelves, right now,” said Richard Schwartz, president and CEO of Pensa Systems. “With Pensa, both brands and retailers can take a constant pulse, at scale, of store shelf and retail channel performance, bringing the physical store shelf online for the next age of retail.”