Wakefern Tests Autonomous In-Store Tech


Wakefern Food Corp., retail wholesaler and parent company of the ShopRite, Price Rite, Price Chopper and Ideal Food Basket chains, has partnered with Simbe Robotics to deploy the retail technology company’s business intelligence solution, Tally, at stores throughout its trading area.

Tally autonomously roams store aisles up to three times per day, leveraging computer vision technology to collect shelf data that ensures products are in-stock, in the correct location and accurately priced on the sales floor. Its artificial intelligence-powered platform gathers in-store data and inventory insight.

“Wakefern Food Corp. is committed to providing our customers best-in-class grocery shopping experiences,” said Charles J. McWeeney, vice president, technology, innovation & strategy at Wakefern, in a news release. “Tally’s technology is another tool to help our store operations and staff while creating new opportunities to maximize customer satisfaction.”

Tally does not require any infrastructure changes to the store environment to operate effectively and is designed to operate during normal store hours collaboratively with store teams, according to the release. The robot is built with a case of sensors that enable it to navigate quietly and autonomously across the store without being disruptive to shoppers or store teams. Tally’s data-gathering technology also aims to free up time for store associates to work more closely with shoppers.

“The retail industry is facing a unique and unprecedented set of challenges, and companies must thoughtfully adopt technology to address those challenges while continuing to provide a stellar level of service that customers expect,” said Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, in the release.

In August 2021, Schnuck Markets became the first supermarket chain to deploy Simbe’s Tally robots chainwide, after first piloting the technology in July 2017 and expanding to additional stores in 2018 and 2020 (see video below). Hy-Vee also rolled out Tally robots at five stores throughout its Midwest footprint last September, and California-based Save Mart partnered with Simbe earlier last year to pilot Tally at seven stores under its Save Mart, Lucky/Lucky California and FoodMaxx banners.