Proof of cleaning and stocking for retailers isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of initialing a form on a clipboard, performing a white glove test and manually taking images of cleaned areas and stocked shelves.
As shopper expectations around cleanliness and demand for in-stock inventory have dramatically shifted over the past 18 months due to a global pandemic, proof of completed work is more critical than ever. The net result? Retailers are looking for new innovation and to ensure tasks are completed effectively and efficiently, ensuring customer expectations are met.
But how can retail managers, including those overseeing multiple regional or national locations, verify if a given store’s cleaning and inventory tasks have been completed? Enter the innovation of data-driven robotics.
Brain Corp’s autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) – specifically our self-driving floor scrubbers and delivery tugs that haul heavy loads of stock from storage areas to the retail floor – are helping address labor shortages and bringing greater efficiency and safety to the operations of thousands of retail locations. But possibly one the most important benefits of these AMRs is their ability to capture and share near real-time performance data that proves what needs to be done is in fact getting done — from floor cleaning to stocking shelves
This never-before-available data gives stakeholders fleetwide operational data, as well as granular reporting on individual robots and stores, via configurable daily and weekly reports to easily verify AMR performance. On top of proving work has been completed, these insights enable teams to take a data-driven approach to operations — allowing for the quick recognition of processes that should be improved and fueling the strategic decision making to implement these changes.
Who Benefits From Data-Driven Proof of Work?
Robots are no longer optional, but rather, due to recent advances, are necessary components of a retailer’s operations strategy to “automate the aisle.” This is especially true for those who are tasked with managing a store’s activities, personnel and operations, and for those carrying out these workflows on the retail frontline. In either case, proof of work is critical to ensuring all the different tasks necessary for the smooth operation of a retail environment are taken care of.
Store and Regional Managers
Store managers and facilities/operations teams need to capture quantifiable proof of work, and now they can do so with our BrainOS® Autonomy Service via our fleet operations portal. This cloud-based portal provides easy-to-navigate, detailed performance and usage analytics for each robot and store. This portal is accessible from almost anywhere — a key benefit for those tasked with overseeing multiple stores.
Autonomous Floor Scrubbers
Examples of key metrics include operational hours, such as time of day and duration, autonomous usage versus manual usage and heat maps showing areas cleaned and any variations in workflow.
Why is this operational data so valuable to store and regional managers? Cleaning activities often take place overnight when a store is closed or traffic is low. It’s important for managers to know not only that their employees were able to make their shift, but also to confirm each necessary task was completed. With our route labels and cleaning plans, and our data-driven approach to automate cleaning operations through robotic systems, managers gain the control and ability to increase the output of cleaning by ensuring the full floor space is getting covered and identifying ways to improve efficiencies. Therefore, more cleaning activities can be completed in a given time, even amidst workforce challenges.
Autonomous Delivery Tugs
Examples of key metrics include how many drops a self-driving delivery tug has executed, to which departments, and their total operating time and distance.
Again you may ask why this data is so valuable to store and regional managers. Performance analytics that support proof of delivery translates into managers knowing that the restocking of merchandise is taking place in a timely manner, and also produces inventory and planogram insights. This leads to more strategic inventory management and layout decisions that directly impact potential revenue opportunities.
Additionally, another important metric managers can get is the number of steps saved by their employees when moving inventory using the autonomous delivery tug versus manual hauling. As this metric grows, managers should see a reduction in workers’ comp claims as the autonomous delivery tugs ease the physical burden put on associates.
Robot Operators and End-Users
In hectic retail environments with multiple competing priorities (cleaning, stocking, helping shoppers), teaming up with a robot means a dull, repetitive task can be delegated, and more work can get done. While your robotic partner completes operations like floor cleaning and inventory delivery, staff can simultaneously complete other high-value tasks, like cleaning areas of the store robots can’t reach and servicing customers. Add to this, operators can easily verify the progress of their robotic partner at any time.
The innovation of self-driving floor care and delivery robots offers an easy, more reliable method for operators and end users to share the proof of their work. There’s no paperwork necessary, no need to take and upload images, no complex vetting process that can take time and create an operational bottleneck. Through artificial intelligence software, robotic teammates are able to navigate autonomously, learn from user demonstration, collect data, and seamlessly verify proof of completed tasks — giving operators the confidence to rely on automation and focus on other priorities.
“The potential of robots, artificial intelligence, and data working in concert throughout an in-store environment can only be realized by proven, commercial technology,” said Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, CEO of Brain Corp.
Leveraging Data-Driven Robotics for Better Shopper Experiences
At the end of the day, brick-and-mortar retailers thrive when shoppers shop in their stores. And they will more frequently if they trust stores will be clean, safe and stocked. When managers and staff leverage automation for operations and data, they can create better workflows and show clear proof-of-work metrics — meaning a superior in-store shopping experience is much more likely.
Robots are the only solution for generating accurate, automatic and near real-time insights. And BrainOS®-powered robots, combined with our BrainOS Autonomy Service, deliver the most comprehensive and actionable insights, equipping your staff with tools that will increase productivity, performance and operational control.
Ready to turn your manual operations into easy-to-manage digital workflows? Contact our team to see how BrainOS technology can streamline your retail operations.