One of the hardest parts in operating a retail store is keeping the shelves stocked. Customers come in, move things around (and hopefully buy something). It’s an endless task.
And keeping shelf space tidy isn’t just for appearances. Misplaced items can result in lost sales that can really add up.
A startup called Pensa Systems aims to solve the problem. The company has developed a drone that can fly around a store and examine items on shelves and in coolers. The drones rely on advanced AI technology that can scan, read and interpret store shelf inventory in real time with impressive accuracy. The drone then compares what’s on the shelf to store planograms.
The system delivers a “broadly scalable system that automatically and systematically tracks in-store inventory, using advanced computer vision, patent-pending artificial intelligence and autonomous drones to see and understand what is on store shelves,” Pensa said in a statement. This approach gives retailers the ability to minimize out-of-stock items, increase revenue, and optimize their product planning.
Pensa Systems partnered with bottler Anheuser-Busch InBev on a program that would allow the drones to be easily deployed within existing retail locations. At a test location in Montreal, the Pensa drones were able to collect hourly and daily stock reports in the store’s beer secretion, recording a 98 percent on out-of-stock detection over 200 test flights.
The drone’s manufacturers believe the use of in-store devices to track customer activity could also be an alternative to the sophisticated and expensive technology operated in cashierless stores like Amazon Go.