Robomart’s ‘shop on wheels’ starts up
Robomart’s automated ‘store on wheels’ platform has launched on-demand mobile drugstore and snack mini-markets in West Hollywood, Calif., And has an upcoming grocery offering on its list.
Robomart, based in Santa Monica, Calif., Said Monday that the deployment marks its commercial debut after a pilot in West Hollywood that ended in December. Similar to carpooling services, Robomart allows consumers to use an app to flag down a vehicle housing an automated store and get it to their location in less than 10 minutes, where they choose from a selection of products.
Two Robomarts were created with today’s launch: a Pharmacy Robomart offering health and personal care items such as shampoo, hand sanitizer and ibuprofen, and a Robomart of ready-to-eat snacks. eat including chocolates, crisps, soft drinks and other snacks. Over the next few months, there will be a Robomart grocery store – offering fresh and chilled produce – as well as Robomarts Pantry (dry convenience store), Deli (meal) and Café (coffee and donuts).
“We have launched two different types of Robomart: The Snacks Robomart, which offers a selection of candies, chocolates, crisps and frozen drinks, and the Robomart Pharmacy, which offers over-the-counter medications, household items and personal care items. and grooming. said Ali Ahmed, who founded Robomart with Emad Rahim and Tigran Shahverdyan in 2017. “We have them deployed in West Hollywood at the moment, and it serves all of West Hollywood, which is bigger than what Google Maps shows. If you go into the app, you will be able to see the entire border of the operating area, which currently covers around an area of five square miles.
Through a partnership, Miami-based REEF Technology, North America’s largest operator of mobility and logistics hubs and neighborhood kitchens, manages product storage, labeling, scanning, integrity and replenishment of Robomart automated stores. Currently, Robomart vehicles have human drivers, but plans call for the company to add autonomous vehicles as it refines autonomous technology and local regulations allow.
“The Robomarts are currently in training. They are therefore not autonomous, but the consumer experience is fully automated. They do not interact with the driver, the windows are tinted and they do not tilt. They just call the store through the app and get a fully automated shopping experience with no payment upon arrival, ”explained Ahmed. “We built the prototype in 2019 which you might have seen online. Our plan is that, if the regulations allow it, we begin to introduce more driverless vehicles into our fleet.
“But what’s really exciting is the whole experience we’ve created for customers,” he noted. “The automated in-store call is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. Just press a button, get a store in four to five minutes, and get everything you need.
Robomart works as follows: Consumers download the Robomart app (currently available for iOS, with an upcoming Android version), create an account, then start shopping. The app displays the types of Robomarts available – drugstore, snacks and, soon, grocery store, pantry, delicatessen, and cafe – and once consumers have made a selection, they see a menu of available products. From there they click on “Hi now” and the Robomart is assigned.
In about five minutes, Robomart travels to the customer’s destination and sends an arrival alert. The customer leaves, unlocks the vehicle door with the app and the door opens automatically. Then the customer takes the desired items and then closes the door via the app. The automated store counts the products taken and, in a few minutes, provides a receipt and debits the payment card registered in the application.
“With Robomart, you don’t create a shopping cart. You don’t waste time like you would on grocery delivery apps, which can sometimes take 40-50 minutes. Yesterday I heard someone say it takes an hour and a half to create a basket. Robomart removes this whole process, ”said Ahmed.
Additionally, the solution eliminates out-of-stock and product selection errors, as the app allows users to view a list of all available products in the Robomart app before hailing the vehicle and then selecting manually. their items when Robomart arrives.
“You take all the products you want,” Ahmed said. “You don’t scan anything. You do not withdraw your card. It’s fully automated. And we keep track of everything that comes out of Robomart.
Robomart’s fastest performance during the West Hollywood test period was four minutes, according to Ahmed.
“In December, we launched our beta trial with the Robomart Pharmacy. It was very timely due to the pandemic. We wanted to offer customers regular pharmacy rates during this time, and we had an incredible response. People loved the proposal, its speed. Our fastest engagement was four minutes – not just the driving time, but everything from start to finish. And we had several orders in four minutes, ”he said.
“Once we did the Robomart Pharmacy, we realized we wanted to expand. The snacks were a natural progression as they allowed us to test the refrigeration system, make sure everything was working, and then bring in the groceries. The Robomart Snacks maintains the temperature at 35 degrees. It’s incredibly cold in there. You get frozen drinks, ”explained Ahmed. “And now we’re going to roll out the Robomart grocery store with a selection of fruits, vegetables, milk, bread, eggs – all the perishables you would ever need.”
The Robomart Grocery vehicle will house multiple temperature zones, with a cooler on the lower shelf set just above freezing and ambient temperatures on the upper shelves depending on the products stored, including items like food to be reheated. and to eat. The shelves can be set to any temperature, Ahmed said, although frozen foods are not accepted at this time.
REEF will serve as a partner for the storage and replenishment of the Robomart grocery store. “They have their grocery division called Lightspeed and are the number one trader on our platform,” Ahmed said.
The planned Robomart Pantry will feature an assortment of dry groceries, such as pasta, gravy, rice, etc. With a greater focus on dining, Deli Robomart will offer a menu of prepared meals like sandwiches, salads and soups, while Café Robomart will provide coffee, donuts and baked goods.
“The overall structure is that we are a ‘supermarket on wheels’ that comes to you on demand, and it’s the first of its kind,” Ahmed said. “That’s how we kind of think of the different aisles in the supermarket and the different types of Robomart.”
Robomart is also open to partnerships with grocery chains, which would rent the vehicles and store them, according to Ahmed. In early 2019, the Northeastern Stop & Shop grocer announced a pilot of the Robomart autonomous vehicle in Boston.
“The way we operate is that we don’t own the inventory. We have merchant partners who sell their products through Robomarts, and that’s how we set up this model and this partnership, ”said Ahmed. “At the moment, we are very happy and excited about the partnership with REEF. We can intensify this partnership, but we are also very open to partnering with larger supermarket chains. So let’s take a look at how things play out and how these conversations take shape. But our model is to leverage Robomarts and allow retailers to sell their products through our channel. “
The startup Robomart presented its technology in January 2018 at the Consumer Electronics Show, presenting its autonomous vehicle. In addition to REEF, Robomart partners with Zeeba as a vehicle fleet supplier and Zebra Technologies and Avery Dennison to support Robomart’s proprietary RFID tracking technology.
“Robomart is a fantastic partner that will help REEF to further connect customers and neighborhoods with greater accessibility, consistency and efficiency to the goods and services most in demand,” said Philippe Saint-Just, co-founder of REEF, in a communicated. “Together, we are redefining proximity as a service with our last-block treatment infrastructure. “