Supermarkets with human cashiers always stock those areas with impulse buys, primarily candy. Customers waiting at the conveyor belt have plenty of time to observe and be tempted by them. But with the rise of self-checkout stations, retailers have made the unpleasant discovery that last-minute candy racks don’t attract the attention of customers who are preoccupied with scanning their own grocery items.
“Research has shown that 78 percent of shoppers are choosing self-checkout and as a result traditional shopping patterns are shifting — especially when it comes to the last minute, impulse purchase,” reports Candy Industry.
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In an effort to offset the decline, Mars Wrigley has partnered with Savioke, a robotics firm, to develop a robot called Smiley. Smiley is essentially a roving point-of-purchase display that attempts to tempt customers with candy before they get distracted at the self-checkout. “Smiley, true to its name, features catchy tunes and dancing as it makes its rounds through the store offering treats for sale,” Mars Wrigley writes. “Smiley uses the latest in self-driving technology to ensure safe operation.” (By that they mean LIDAR.)
Here’s the ‘bot in action, at its first testing site at a ShopRite in Monroe, NY:
What they need is a mechanism to launch the candy into shoppers’ carts as it passes them, combined with some sort of auto-billing feature.