Shoppers at the midwest-region grocery store Schnuck Markets Inc. will soon share the aisles with an increasing number of automated inventory-counting robots, after that Saint Louis-based company said today it would deploy the bots in more than half of tis stores.

The move expands a program that began three years ago when Schnuck Markets launched San Francisco-based Simbe Robotics’ autonomous robot “Tally” in about two dozen locations. Schnucks first piloted Tally in July of 2017 and expanded to additional stores in 2018, using the bots to cruise store aisles two to three times per day and autonomously capture inventory for approximately 35,000 products per store.

Simbe’s Tally bot will now roll into an additional 46 stores, bringing its real-time data gathering to a total of 62 Schnuck Markets sites. The chain operates a total of 112 stores throughout Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

“The amount of critical data and valuable insights that Tally continues to bring us from a select number of stores is immeasurable,” Schnucks Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Development, Dave Steck, said in a release. “By expanding our partnership with Simbe and introducing Tally to more than half our stores, we will improve our in-stock position for our customers and free up our teams from tedious inventory-related tasks, allowing more focus on service. Improving our customer’s experiences has always been deeply important to us and is becoming even more critical to operations in a rapidly changing retail environment.”

According to Schnuck Markets, the Tally robots support 14 times more out-of-stock detection than manual auditing and at least a 20% reduction in out-of-stock items, compared to its stores without the robots. Other benefits include increased accuracy of real-time inventory, more efficient inventory management, and real-time product location data that is offered to shoppers through a specialized smartphone app.

The move is the latest expansion for Simbe, after landing $26 million in venture capital in 2019 and announcing plans to boost production and deployment of the Tally robot for counting inventory in retail store aisles by 1,000 units over two years.


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