This month, US home improvement retailer Lowe’s will introduce the LoweBot – an artificially intelligent (AI) robot – into 11 of its San Francisco Bay stores.
Tapping into the rising influence of AI in all service industries, the 5ft tall robot, developed by Silicon Valley technologists Fellow Robots, has been commandeered to ease the customer journey in-store. This frees up (human) sales staff for more complex, nuanced and creative brand-consumer connections.
The LoweBot uses 3D scanning tech to detect the human body, prompting it to greet customers. It’s also equipped with speech-recognition tools, allowing it to verbally respond to basic questions relating to stock availability or the location of items in-store. In the latter instance, it will physically guide customers to the correct aisle – highlighting promotions for other items it passes en route – via its digital screen.
Additionally, it will be used as a real-time scanning tool, checking on-shelf inventory to inform sales decisions such as promoting items that aren’t selling well or triggering stock replenishment.
This isn’t the first time retailers have used customer-facing robots. In 2016, Target also introduced robots for shop floor inventory scanning to detect low or incorrectly priced stock, while Best Buy debuted Chloe – a click-and-collect vending machine – in its New York flagship in 2015.
For more on anxiety-reducing retail concepts, see The Supportive Sell. For more on AI, see Macys x IBM, Concierge Commerce and Personalising E-Tailing. See also Redefining DIY Part 1: From DIY to Do-It-For-Me and New-Gen Home Improvement Part 2: Urbanisation & Female Focus.