Tusco Display blog
Tusco Display blog



Robots first began appearing in American manufacturing plants about 40 years ago but the pace has quickened considerably in the past 15 years. Today, it’s commonplace to see robotic positioning, vision systems, and automated machinery working alongside their human partners.

We are beginning to see the same thing happen in retail. Like the first manufacturing bots, retail robots are still relatively rare and sometimes clumsy, but they are coming for very similar reasons: ease of use, reliability, and lower cost. Retailers are investing an estimated $3.6B in artificial technology globally in 2019 and are expected to spend $12B by 2023, according to Juniper Research.

Kroger is building 20 robot-automated warehouses in the US. Several retailers are testing driverless delivery vehicles. Walmart has adapted robots to scan and sort inventory. Giant Foods has deployed 172 robots that scan for spills and clean them up like a giant Roomba.

Retailers are primarily driven by two imperatives. First, since their #1 expense tends to be people: hiring, training and retaining associates is expensive. The #2 reason is that they want to provide a great shopper experience. Out-of-stocks, unclean floors, poorly trained or missing associates keep people from coming back.

When cash registers first appeared, some store proprietors fretted that using them would depersonalize the shopping experience. Today, many shoppers prefer self-scan options. Retailers will continue to innovate, lower costs and improve services because shoppers have options, both online and in-store. Expect to see more robots rolling your way soon.