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    The Valley Group

    Retail marketing group creating powerful in-store solutions, driven by insight, knowledge and creativity

    Dr Retail 25.01.21

    Are Robots the future of Retail Theatre?

    For decades, the retail sector has used a host of strategies to offer theatre and engagement at the point of sale, creating spectacle, excitement and ultimately brand and product desire. Despite the growth in e-commerce sales, global brands continue to invest in flagship ‘concept stores’ which act as showcase experiences and a chance to ‘wow’ visitors, fans and shoppers at high-footfall locations around the world.

    Here at Valley, we’ve been carefully watching how the robotics space has been developing and today want to share 5 concepts that you could see in supermarkets, shopping malls or even in suburban locations very soon.

    It’s never been more important for merchants, brands and retailers to give people a reason to come shopping. Given the added convenience of e-commerce, physical retail can fight back by delivering un-matchable in-store experiences that make stores a destination.

    If you’ve visited a KitKat Chocolatory (Nestle’s gourmet KitKat counters where the humble chocolate finger gets a serious upgrade) or a Krispy Kreme factory-store, you’ll appreciate the power of creating spectacle, that consumers can watch, film and share and take part in.

    Here’s 5 robotic concepts that show a preview of what could be the future of theatre in retail:

    Piestro – artisan pizza, fast

    Piestro is an on-demand pizza robot with serious venture backing. The team behind this clever contraption are on a mission to combine traditional artisan-style pizza with a futuristic twist. This unit is designed for stand-alone sites, as well as to support high-volume locations for existing pizza chains. It would also make for a fun, interactive and highly-sharable fixture as part of the hot food offer at various food retailers. Watch the video to be truly mesmerised by what this robot can do. Piestro offers speed, consistency, low staff costs and would allow a true 24 hour service.

    Flippy – the Burger Robot

    Flippy, from US based Miso Robotics has already found real commercial application in partnership with various chains in the US. Flippy can single-handedly manage a burger grill, taking into account exactly how customers like their burger cooked. According to restaurant operators, Flippy allows grill-staff to move to other, more customer focused parts of the operation and avoids people having to spend hours in hot, intense cooking environments. Flippy can also handle a fry station, unloading frozen chips into baskets, then lowering them into the fryer (raising them again and dispensing once they are perfectly cooked).

     

    Blendid – the juice Robot working real shifts at Wal-Mart stores

    Blendid’s juice and smoothie unit is already in operation in a number of US Wal-Mart stores. Catering to a health conscious consumer, Blendid prepares healthy concoctions fast, providing an engaging spectacle at the same time. The completely unmanned refrigerated ‘pod’ features hoppers filled with fresh ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, plant-based milks and protein boosts. Blendid appears to be ideal for retailers and hospitality operators who offer food-to-go and want to enhance the quality of their offer.

    Bobacino – the Bubble tea making robot

    Originating in Taiwan, Bubble tea has slowly become mainstream in Western markets and is now a familiar site in food halls, high-end department stores and larger city high streets. Bobacino is the world’s first fully automatic bubble-tea making robot and comes in the form of fully self-enclosed unit. Customers can order contactlessly on their smartphones, choosing their base flavour, the type of ‘boba’ (the chewy tapioca balls that make this drink unique) and Bobacino even seals each beverage.

     

    MAKR SHAKR – the completely autonomous bartender

    If you’ve taken a cruise on one of Royal Caribbean’s latest liners, you will have come across a MakrShakr bartender offering thousands of different liquid possibilities. The Italian company doesn’t just serve cruise liners. It’s Robots are now shaking cocktails 24 hours a day in various locations around the world. Spirits and drink bases are suspended from the ceiling and robots dispense shots from optics, just like you’d find in any Bar or Pub. The robotic arms then add ice, sodas and tonics from a fountain and serve, all in efficient and artistic style. Part of the fun is that the robots dance together when they have a short break from drink prep. Finally – the system uses a web page where thirsty people can order drinks contactlessly. This incorporates an age-verification step, to avoid alcohol getting into the wrong hands. The company offer both a fixed, permanent unit, as well as a mobile unit for brand activations and events.

    If you’ve seen other robotic or autonomous innovations already at-work in the brand activation and retail sector, we’d love to hear about them. Drop us an email and we’ll include them in a future newsletter.

    See you next time.

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