As the world emerges from the global pandemic, retailers are experiencing a resurgence not seen in the last two decades.
ABI Research estimates that in 2021, retail sales grew by 14%. This is double that of 2020’s growth which was clocked at 7%. Both periods recorded remarkable growth when compared to the 3.7% annual growth rate between 2010 and 2019.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that this growth is putting a strain on supply chains and retail operations worldwide. In response, retailers and stakeholders are turning to automation solutions such as mobile robotics for operational ease.
ABI Research says worldwide commercial robot revenue in retail stores will have a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of over 25% from 2022 to 2030 and exceed US$8.4 billion by 2030.
“There is the continued adoption of diverse technologies in the retail space. We can see incoming retail solutions within various points of the retail value chain, such as order fulfilment, in-store inventory check, coordination between store associates, or last-mile delivery. These solutions can directly or indirectly impact the wider supply chain management to retailers for the better,” explains Adhish Luitel, senior analyst, supply chain management and logistics at ABI Research.
Technologies such as contactless checkout, in-store mobile robotics, wearables, and smart carts are getting a lot of traction, with major retailers adopting these incoming solutions to enhance operations and contribute to a more streamlined supply chain management. Companies like Zebra Technologies, Simbe Robotics, and Seoul Robotics have been providing various automation solutions such as wearable computers, handheld devices, LiDAR devices, and in-store robots that can be used for inventory scanning, floor care, or security purposes.
Luitel commented that given their obvious operational benefits of enhanced customer experience, streamlined task/employee management, price management, or automated item monitoring, the impact of these technologies on the wider supply chain management for retailers can’t be understated. Beyond enabling rapid fulfilment/restocking or automated inventory management, these technologies also provide additional data points for precise demand and procurement planning.
“This can also lead to an enhanced omnichannel presence for retailers and stronger partnerships with suppliers, shippers, distribution centre operators, and other supply chain stakeholders through enhanced communication and synergy,” Luitel concluded.