Retail Mon, Jan 7, '19
The Future of Retail is Connected Automation: SoftBank Robotics at CES

The future of retail innovation is all about truly connected customer experiences. As leading retailers are moving beyond in-store digital experimentation, many companies are finding that the biggest opportunities for ROI happen when Store Operations, Merchandising and Operating teams, processes, and systems can work together.

By connecting data from scanners, smart POS systems and even robotic customer service agents, retailers can uncover new ways to turn disparate IoT devices and online data sources into a world of actionable insights. These insights can be used to create more effective use cases for automation and AI, and drive more cohesive customer journeys -- online and offline.

Connected Automation Drives Better Customer Experiences  

Forrester predicts that 40 percent of enterprises will have automation centers and frameworks in place by the end of the year. And as retailers begin to use technology to put points on the board, the leaders are starting to execute on complex fulfilment strategies, automated customer journeys, and strategies to reduce inventory and payroll costs.

In order to provide a great in-store experience, retailers must embrace solutions that connect physical data -- like store traffic, basket analysis, and conversion rates -- with digital data -- like loyalty program and promotion data -- to influence and automate inventory and pricing strategies.

See How Connected Automation Makes Click-and-Collect Easy at CES

Because the future of retail is such a hot topic, it’s no wonder that this will be a key focus at CES -- occurring January 8 –11, 2019 in Las Vegas. Across the board, exhibits will showcase the variety of opportunities that retailers have to create competitive differentiation.

One process in particular that will be on display is the next generation of “Click and Collect,” also known as Buy Online Pick Up in-Store (BOPUS). 67 percent of retail shoppers report they have used BOPUS to complete purchases, yet implementation of this customer-friendly process remains a challenge for retailers, with 75 percent saying that the ability to accurately track inventory was a major concern.

For brands that want to retain customers in an “I want it now” world, BOPUS provides instant gratification, the added security of seeing items in person, and the ability to save on shipping costs. But effectively orchestrating BOPUS requires an integration of multiple technologies and systems to effectively manage customer expectations, without sacrificing margins on inventory and delivery. 

The Click-and-Collect revolution is just one of many applications needed to deliver on customer expectations in the year ahead. With front and back-end automation, and a connected data strategy in place, the possibilities for delivering a complete end-to-end customer experience are endless.

 SoftBank and Simbe Prove Two Robots Are Better Than One 

For retailers looking to automate business processes and optimize the customer journey, CES will be a great opportunity to see the future on display. 

In particular, the Future of Retail Exhibit, which is hosted by SoftBank, and technology partner Simbe Robotics, will give retailers the opportunity to see what happens when robots work together in the store.

SoftBank, the creator of Pepper, the friendly customer service robot, and Simbe, the creator of Tally, the world's premier autonomous shelf auditing and analytics solution, recently announced a global partnership to tackle the challenges retailers face in handling inventory dynamics in their stores. At CES, SoftBank will bring Pepper together with Tally to transform the customer experience through connected IoT and full process automation, focusing on a more seamless Click and Collect process.

The Future of Retail Exhibit is a can’t miss exhibit for retailers looking for ways to increase store traffic and allow BOPUS to drive increased basket size in the brick and mortar environment. By leveraging two robots together -- one that can help upsell, and the other that can track accurate inventory-- retailers can build better, more flexible customer relationships, and deliver on the omnichannel promise. 

In addition to the Future of Retail exhibit, SoftBank Robotics executives will be participating in the High Tech Retailing Summit, a full-day conference and experiential exhibit area within CES that looks at how technology is transforming the retail experience. In the panel session, Robots in Aisle 5, Chief Strategy Officer Steven Carlin will discuss the role of robots throughout the retail process, how they can impact the customer experience, and how retailers can incorporate robots into their business.  

A second session, Can Robots and Automation: Revitalize Retail, presented by Robotics Business Journal and RoboBusiness, will highlight how retailers are most effectively responding to changes in the way consumers purchase and use consumer goods in the home and workplace.

Join SoftBank in Driving a Connected Future For Retail

SoftBank Robotics is leading the way in helping businesses automate their processes to make things better for businesses, workers, and customers. As the technology platforms get more sophisticated, the goal is to make the customer experience simple.

If you are coming to CES this year, please feel free to set up some time to connect to learn more about what we are doing to drive the future of retail -- we look forward to showing how SoftBank Robotics is leading the way with integrated robotics solutions.