- Sam's Club is deploying robotic inventory-analysis equipment to all of its nearly 600 locations across the United States, the Walmart-owned membership retailer announced in a press release on Thursday.
- The technology, based on software developed by artificial intelligence company Brain Corp, will be mounted on autonomous floor-cleaning machines already in operation at Sam's Club stores.
- Sam's Club is adding the labor-saving equipment at a time when retailers are stepping up their use of automation to deal with persistent challenges in hiring and retaining workers.
The inventory-scanning technology will ride around Sam's Club locations aboard cleaning vehicles controlled by Brain Corp's BrainOS platform that the retailer has used at all of its locations since late 2020. The robotic scrubbers were manufactured by industrial cleaning equipment supplier Tennant Company, which is also partnering with Brain Corp on the deployment of the shelf-scanning accessory for Sam's Club.
The system, known as Inventory Scan, transmits data about products that provide the basis for inventory reports for store managers with details such as pricing accuracy, stock levels and whether items are in the right place.
“This intelligence allows us to proactively manage our clubs in an efficient manner," Todd Garner, vice president of in club product management for Sam’s Club, said in a statement. "Inventory Scan assures items are available and easy to locate in the club, freeing up time for our associates to focus on members and the shopping experience they deserve.”
The Sam's Club rollout marks Brain Corp's first commercial use of its inventory scanning technology and is the AI company's "largest and fastest" technology deployment to date, according to the announcement. Brain Corp and Tennant jointly debuted the data-scanning accessory earlier in January at the National Retail Federation's convention in New York City.
Walmart, Sam's Club's parent, also uses Brain Corp's technology to power automated floor scrubbers in its stores. But the retailer, which has been adding technology to automate a range of functions, reversed plans to bring aisle-scanning robots from Bossa Nova Robotics to its stores in late 2020.
The autonomous inventory-management system from Brain Corp and Tennant faces competition from robotic shelf-scanning technology developed and marketed by Simbe Robotics. That system, which Simbe calls Tally, has been adopted by food retailers including Hy-Vee, Save Mart and Schnuck Markets. Schnucks announced in August it will bring the equipment to all of its stores following initial tests by the grocer that started in 2017.