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Ahold Delhaize yesterday announced that it soon will be deploying almost 500 robots to its Giant/Martin’s and Stop & Shop banners, “following successful pilots that improved in-store efficiencies and safety.”

According to the announcement, “The in-store robots, named Marty, were easily recognized by customers in stores by their friendly appearance where they were tested and used to identify hazards, such as liquid, powder and bulk food item spills and provide reporting that enables corrective action. They help stores mitigate risk caused by such spills, as well as enabled associates to spend more time serving and interfacing with customers.”

The robots were developed and tested through a partnership between the company’s Retail Business Services unit and Badger Technologies, a product division of Jabil.

“As part of our continued focus on technology transformation, we’re pleased to support one of the most significant deployments of robotics innovation in the grocery retail industry,” said Paul Scorza, EVP and Chief Information Officer for Retail Business Services.
KC's View:
This reflects a growing aggressiveness on the part of Ahold Delhaize, especially in the US, when it comes to technology and innovation … it was one of the things I noticed when late last year I moderated a panel on Supply Chain Management with a number of their folks up at Venture Cafe Kendall in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

One observation I would make, though, is that they need to take seriously the idea that robots in the aisles will allow associates “to spend more time serving and interfacing with customers.” That’s critical - technology often tempts companies to reduce labor expenses by cutting people, especially at a time when labor is getting more expensive and is harder to find. But great people, more than pretty much anything, make for a great and differentiated retail experience … and no matter who are, that’s what you have to aim for.