Guest Column | May 26, 2022

How To Factor Retail Robotics Into Your Retail Strategy

By Shannon Flynn


Retail robotics is key to evolving retail operations and building a next-generation customer experience. More and more retailers are adopting robotic process automation and retail robots. Integrating robotics into retail strategies can help future-proof businesses and give them an edge over competitors. There are a few key things to keep in mind when factoring in retail robotics.

Preparing For A Retail Robotics Strategy

Retail may not be the first industry that comes to mind when people think of robotics, but it is bursting with opportunities for integrating robotics. The retail automation industry is projected to grow 9.7% by 2026, accounting for over $10 billion in revenue. There’s a good reason for this.

Automation can increase efficiency, reduce strain on employees, optimize operations, foster business growth, and improve the customer experience. Retailers can use robots to free up employees’ time on the job and fill in the gaps when staffing is low. Retail robotics helps businesses make the most out of everything they have and deliver the best customer experience possible.

Factoring robotics into an overall retail strategy will ensure the best chance of successful implementation. Planning out how robots will fit into a larger strategy will help retailers plan for any potential technical challenges and make adjustments to accommodate those. For example, they might need more space in their warehouse or larger aisles in their stores. Employees may also need to be trained to operate and work with robots and automated processes.

Building A Retail Robotics Strategy

A retail robotics strategy will be different depending on the type of robot a business plans to use. Retail robots generally fall into one of two categories: customer-facing and behind-the-scenes. Customer-facing robotics is any automation device or software that customers directly interact with. Behind-the-scenes robotics includes devices and software like warehouse robots or robotically automated marketing and logistics.

Behind The Scenes Retail Robots

Behind the scenes, retail robotics strategies should prioritize improving operations and efficiency so that retailers can better serve customers. There are countless ways to accomplish this, from warehouse robots to robotic process automation tools and everything in between. A good place to start is identifying areas of retail operations that tend to be delayed or time consuming. These are often great opportunities for automation with the help of retail robotics.

This is where accounting for retail robotics when designing a retail strategy becomes highly important. The boost in efficiency and cost reduction that is frequently generated by adopting retail robotics can have a beneficial ripple effect throughout the entire retail strategy. By recognizing and planning for this impact, retailers can maximize the impact of their retail robotics integration.

For example, retailers can use robotic process automation to rapidly conduct large-scale macro space planning for new store locations, allowing for rapid scaling and growth. By automating the process of creating store layouts, retailers can spend more time focusing on creating a catalog of goods and improving the customer experience. Similarly, retailers can keep up with returns by using robots and AI to automate returns processing, reducing the cost of returns and facilitating easy returns for customers.

Customer-Facing Retail Robots

A customer-facing retail robotics strategy should focus on improving the customer experience first and foremost. Customer-facing retail robotics has to strike a balance between benefiting the retailer and maintaining a good experience for the customer. At first glance, some customers may feel that automated systems or physical robots are a “cheap” substitute for interpersonal experiences. So, retailers may need to work to overcome this sentiment when they are designing a retail robotics strategy.

The best way to win over customers to the value of robots and robotic process automation is to genuinely improve the shopping experience. A great example of this is the clothing retailer Hointer, which has been using robots to fully automate its Seattle, WA storefront since 2014. Customers scan an item of clothing they want to try on, select the size and color they want, and go to a fitting room where a robot delivers their selections. When they are ready to check out, they use an automated self-service kiosk.

Implementing A Retail Robotics Strategy

Crafting a retail robotics strategy is all about identifying concrete business goals and finding the best ways for robotics to help accomplish those goals. Retail robotics can lead to cost savings, greater efficiency, streamlined operations, and better customer experiences. Once a retail robotics strategy is in place, reflection and analysis are key to growth and success. Today, whole stores can be run by robots. So, retailers can be creative in how they use retail robotics to innovate their business. With the right robots, there is no limit to what retailers can accomplish!

About The Author

Shannon Flynn is a technology blogger who writes about AI and IT trends. She's also the Managing Editor of and freelances for sites like IoT for All, ChatbotNewsDaily, and more. Follow her on Medium or MuckRack to read more tech news.