Simbe end user survey validates that Tally can transform inventory management

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two workers walking through a store aisle next to a Tally robot.

Three-fourths of store managers say Tally improves productivity for their teams. | Credit: Simbe Robotics

Simbe Robotics Inc. deployed its first Tally autonomous mobile robot to collect front-of-house retail inventory in 2015. Since that launch, the company has developed the system to track inventory levels in near real-time for retail store managers.

The Tally mobile robot autonomously traverses the store aisles and uses onboard cameras to image all store shelves. These images are then processed to extract item SKUs and inventory counts, which are then summarized in the inventory console for use by the store management team.

Simbe has successfully deployed Tally at companies such as SpartanNash and Wakefern. The South San Francisco-based company is also a 2024 RBR50 award winner for its expansive deployment at BJ’s Wholesale Club.

No more manual counting

Without Tally, inventory counting is a manual process, noted Simbe Robotics. Store clerks restock front-of-house inventory, and the process of counting it is also a part of this job function.

The advent of grocery e-commerce and online order fulfillment has complicated the inventory management task. Fulfillment times are extended when there is not enough inventory on the shelves to support both in-store customers and online orders. This often leads to chaos on the floor for workers who have to react and scramble to pull inventory from the warehouse to keep store shelves stocked.

According to Simbe, Tally can cut fulfillment times in half. It does that in a few ways. The mobile robot can provide an optimal path for selecting items to fulfill an online order, cutting back on the time an associate is traversing the store.

In addition, Tally an help with catalog accuracy so the team can see what’s in stock and doesn’t end up wasting time scanning a shelf only to find out that it’s out of stock.

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Simbe Robotics shares survey data

Recently, Simbe unveiled data from its first annual “Store Team Technology Sentiment Report.” The company polled its current installed base to get detailed insights about their use of Tally and how effective the robot is for store managers.

One of the primary results from the study shows that 90% of store managers said that Tally makes their jobs easier. Top of mind for store managers is customer service and satisfaction.

By automating monotonous tasks, the survey found that Tally can save teammates up to 50 hours each week – and three out of four store managers said they can better support shoppers as a result.

Also of importance to store managers is increasing store team retention, operational excellence, and cost discipline. The quit rate for retail workers is more than 70% higher than other U.S. industries. Labor turnover in retail has reached 95% in recent years – in part due to a lack of proper tools for tasks like inventory management, which associates consistently cite as the worst store team responsibility.

The report is based on an online survey of 174 store managers at U.S.-based retailers that Simbe conducted from April 1 to 20, 2024. The store managers surveyed have been using Tally for six months or more. The company said the results have a margin of error of +/-7% at a 95% confidence level.

Tally can improve staff retention

The survey showed that Tally can help improve store team retention, said Simbe Robotics. The majority of team members said they feel more fulfilled by their work since Tally arrived. Since fulfillment is a key driver of employee retention, this is especially important as retailers face some of the worst labor shortages in history.

When store managers have current inventory data, they can make informed decisions about prioritizing restocking tasks. Nine out of 10 store managers said Tally makes their jobs easier.

For instance, the robot’s pick path optimization lets store teams quickly and easily find items for online orders. This can cut order-fulfillment times in half, according to Simbe.

“As a former retail store manager, I experienced firsthand the inefficiencies of manually managing inventory and its impact on business operations and team morale,” said Jeremy Wortsman, senior director of customer success at Simbe.

“We’re pleased that this inaugural survey so fully quantifies the impact of our technology on operational excellence in retail, as well as store teams’ daily experience and overall fulfillment in their roles,” he said. “Only Simbe’s customers have produced such results at scale for years, and as we deploy Tally to thousands of new stores in response to increasing demand, we’re committed to keeping a pulse on store team sentiment.”

Tally infographic showing various results from the study.

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