Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 15

O

ver the last few years, the innovation in labor
automation technology has been steadily
increasing as technology has further
integrated into society. When coronavirus hit the
United States in early March, the pandemic quickly
enunciated the need for technology that can help
grocers keep items on the shelves, maintain a clean
environment, create contactless solutions, and handle
the influx of online orders.
The idea behind labor automation isn't replacing
employees with robots and other technology
solutions, pointed out Di Di Chan, the president and
co-founder of New York-based FutureProof Retail, it's
about efficiency.
"We've seen that some of our clients are looking at
labor and looking at how to make it more efficient," said
Chan. "Where efficiency can be made is by creating a
more service-oriented environment."
The right labor automation technology solutions
will improve a customer's experience, noted Tony
Koenigsknecht, chief operating officer and co-founder of
Chicago-based Freeosk Inc.
"Retailers really need to be focused on how we can
bring things that drive customer experience that's
heightened," he said. "That's either we can do it better
with automation or we can do things we have never
been able to do with the labor model with automation."

Solutions for streamlining
eCommerce fulfillment
Due to COVID, grocery eCommerce has expanded
rapidly, and the online shopping medium is expected to
continue accelerating, said Curt Avallone, chief business
officer, for Takeoff Technologies, a micro-fulfillment
solutions company based in Waltham, Mass.
When increased online orders started coming in
when the pandemic hit, Avallone noticed that retailers
were seeing two main issues: they didn't have enough
employees to put together the influx of online orders
and items that were out of stock weren't being
communicated to the online ordering system quickly
enough. Those issues are where Takeoff's microfulfillment centers can help.
"We have an automated robotic unit as a part of our
solution," Avallone said. "We can pick items in three to
five seconds with that automation versus picking that
same item on the floor, which would probably take 60 to
90 seconds. So there's more than a 10-fold increase of
productivity."
Takeoff's micro fulfillment center is typically placed
in a 10,000-square-foot section of a retailer's store
environment, and the most sold SKU's (usually about
14,000 to 15,000 items) on the grocer's eCommerce
platform are placed in the micro-fulfillment center.

A CONTACTLESS SAMPLING
AND INFORMATION CENTER
Traditional instore food samples were quick to go when
COVID-19 entered the scene and have not been quick to
return. A survey conducted by Freeosk found that over
50% of shoppers are weary about getting a sample from
another person anytime soon, but 76% indicated they
would be willing to get a sample from a touchless kiosk.
"We rolled out some new features on the kiosk to make
them completely contactless where previously we've had
some contact engagement on the touchscreen," said
Koenigsknecht. "Now shoppers can still engage and get a
hygienic sample without having to do anything except scan
their membership card or phone."
Freeosk's platform can feature a wide variety of shelfstable brands. While the kiosk can only hold one
product type at a time, the kiosk's video tool can crossmerchandise items from the fresh and frozen departments
to help drive sales all over the store.
Freeosk is a turnkey solution, so once the kiosk is placed
in the store retailers simply communicate the types of
products and brands they're interested in spotlighting and
Freeosk finds the fitting brand, running a new campaign
each week.
"Freeosk is not a vending
machine, it's a marketing
platform," Koenigsknecht
said. "We've got a
proprietary dispensing
system that was designed
with the thought in mind
of running week-long
campaigns for
different brands with
a different sample
each week."

NOVEMBER 2020 - 15



Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020

Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 3
Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 4
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Supermarket Perimeter - November 2020 - 6
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