That pesky e-commerce thing has changed everything for businesses everywhere. What this means for the person with the CIO job is that they need to help the company find ways to use the importance of information technology to do things quicker and better. One way that the person with the CIO job is trying to help out is by taking the robots that have become an indispensable part of almost every warehouse and move them into retail settings. Will robots be the way that CIOs make retail better?
Say Hello To Retail Robots
The reason that CIOs are looking to move robots into the retail space is because they can do one job very well. Retail robots can be used to detect when store shelves need to be restocked. The arrival of e-commerce and consumers expectations that what they want will always be available to them has put retailers under a great deal of pressure. Currently, the need to keep track of inventory and always know how much of what you have has become a critical supply-chain concern. Retailers are in the process of attempting to put into place new strategies for delivering and selling goods.
One of the reasons that retailers are under so much pressure is because the boundaries between what used to be considered a distribution center and a store is starting to grow blurry. With the arrival of rapid home delivery and buy-online and pickup-at-store are starting to turn stores into distribution centers. For retailers, this is changing their perception regarding how many items they need to keep in stock and where they will end up storing these items.
All of this change is opening the door for CIOs to experiment with bringing robots into the stores. As the inventories between stores and warehouses start to blend, the need for robots in the stores is becoming more critical. Robots are being used to scan the shelves. These robots roam the store aisles looking for products that might be out of stock. The information that they gather is sent to the store’s restocking systems via the store’s network.
What’s Next For Robots?
These shelf-scanning robots are able to provide store owners with a real-time, actual image of their product layout for the entire store up to two or three times per day. The reason that this is so critical is because retailers report that they are not able to track their inventory in real time and they don’t have a single view of their product levels across distribution channels.
One of the big problems that retailers are currently facing is that because they don’t have a real-time view of what is in their store they can only permit customers who are ordering on-line the opportunity to pick things up the following day. This is because they are dispatching some of the ordered items from their warehouse because they don’t know if they have it in the store. Without robots, a store owner’s only alternative is to have store employees spend all of their time doing inventory counts.
In order to solve this problem, retailer CIOs are turning to in-store robots. These robots can use lasers, radar and cameras to navigate store aisles in order to record which products are out of stock. The information collected by these robots can be used for more than just determining when stock is low. The information provided by the robots can be used to determine which parts of the store to restock based on profitability along with providing a more accurate understanding of the store’s inventory than human workers could.
What All Of This Means For You
CIOs who work for retailers have a real problem on their hands. With the arrival of e-commerce, consumers now believe that every store should always have every product in stock. It can be very difficult to determine if a product is in stock in a store. What is needed is a way to stay on top of what is in stock and what is out of stock in a store. It turns out that the answer might be robots.
CIOs are starting to investigate using robots in retail stores to determine when shelves should be restocked. The boundaries between stores and distribution centers are starting to fall as consumers start to make use of home delivery and store pick-up services. Robots can be used to scan store shelves and then send information back to the store’s inventory systems in order to schedule restocking. Not knowing what is available in a store at any given time is a big issue for store owners. Customers who order on-line can’t pick their goods up until the next day because the store has to order items from the distribution center if they don’t know if they have it in the store. Robots can be used to create accurate inventories of stores and do so better than humans ever could.
Retailers have a real problem on their hands. If they don’t know what their stores contain, then they can’t sell it. They need help in figuring out just exactly what is on their shelves. CIOs are stepping up to help out with this issue. The robots that have been used in the warehouse are now being brought into the store in order to help keep track of inventory. Once store owners know what they have on their shelves, they can start to do a better job of scheduling restocking and selling what they have.
Question For You: Do you think that human workers are going to start to resent robot workers?
Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I think that we can all agree that keeping the company’s network secure is one of the person with the CIO position’s most important tasks because of the importance of information technology. However, no matter how many firewalls we put in place or how effectively we implement two-factor authentication we still need to understand the weakest link in our security system: our employees. What this means for a CIO is that we are responsible for training our staff to not make silly security mistakes. How best to go about doing this? We had better come up with a good solution otherwise all of the fancy security tools in the world won’t be keeping the bad guys out.