Retail Industry Robots

Speeding up sales, cutting costs, and preparing for the future of retail—whether brick-and-mortar or online.

Overview

Retailers are increasingly seeking to improve operational efficiency through robots to carry out tasks such as micro-fulfillment operations, inventory management, cleaning, and customer assistance. Pressure to enter the e-commerce market, optimize efficiency, and increase sales drives demand for retail robots. Advancement in sensor technology and retail availability of advanced chips facilitates adoption of these technologies. The Covid-19 pandemic has further fueled adoption of retail robots as a solution for improving in-store sanitation and inventory management with minimal employee contact.

What's driving this industry?

Industry Updates

AutoStore plans Oslo IPO to raise USD 315 million
Sep 28
Simbe Robotics partners with Hy-Vee to roll out Tally robots
Sep 23
Supermarket chain Meijer introduces “Tally” robots in 10 stores
Sep 21
View all updates
Market Sizing

The US retail robotics market could reach USD 684 million- USD 2.5 billion by 2025

Conservative case

USD 0.7 Bn

14% penetration
Base case

USD 1.5 Bn

30% penetration
Expansion case

USD 2.5 Bn

47% penetration
USD billion05001,0001,5002,0002,5003,0002019202020212022202320242025
View details

COVID-19 IMPACT

  • A surge in online retail sales and increased demand for rapid delivery during the pandemic expedited retailers’ adoption of automated micro-fulfillment technology 

  • Demand for retail robots is rising based on reduced staff in most retail areas and the need for contactless services such as sanitization and inventory management. 

  • Brain Corp’s robotic scrubbers’ usage rose 11.5% Year-over-Year (YoY) during the first three quarters of 2020.

  • Retail giants including Walmart, Kroger, and Tesco have significantly expanded their in-store robotics fleets to improve inventory management with less human contact

Market Mapping

The majority of incumbents and disruptors in the retail robotics space provide offerings in inventory management. The micro-fulfillment segment is witnessing increased interest and several companies are entering the market through partnerships with retailers. Incumbents are likely to gain access to technology through acquisition and partnerships as well as development of in-house technology. The majority of disruptors develop proprietary technology in-house.

Incumbents
Growth
Early
Seed
Pre seed
Micro-fulfillment
?
Inventory management
?
Floor cleaning
?
Customer assistance and analytics
?
Technologies
Technologies
Technologies
Technologies
Amazon Robotics
DEMATIC
Ocado Retail
AutoStore
VARGO
FANUC Corporation
Attabotics
Exotec Solutions
TakeOff Technologies
Fabric
Ox Fulfillment Solutions
Ohi
Alert Innovation
Zebra Technologies
Bossa Nova Robotics
Orby
Simbe Robotics
RADAR
Keonn Technologies
Fellow Robots
MetraLabs
Pensa Systems
Zippedi
SoftBank Robotics Group
Soft Robotics
Tennant
Piaggio
Brain Corp
Techmetics Robotics
MetraLabs
LG
Sensormatic Solutions
RetailNext
Cosmose
Promobot
Techmetics Robotics
Keonn Technologies
Fellow Robots
MetraLabs
Mule Robotics

The Disruptors

Among the startups supplying micro-fulfillment centers, Takeoff Technologies has already made strides, forming at least 10 sales partnerships—including three overseas. Fabric is the next most active disruptor in terms of US partnerships with retailers such as FreshDirect. Newer companies such as Ohi have also been able to expand their operations by forming partnerships with companies such as OUAI and Olipop.

On the inventory robotics side, Simbe Robotics (Tally) has gained significant traction through sales partnerships with Schnucks Markets and Decathlon as well as through an agreement with SoftBank Robotics and several other companies to market its products internationally. Bossa Nova Robotics is also a notable inventory robot disruptor due to its partnerships formed with several large scale retailers such as Albertsons. However, its flagship inventory tracking partnership with Walmart was canceled in November 2020.

Micro-fulfillment

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Fabric
136
Exotec Solutions
113
TakeOff Technologies
61
Ox Fulfillment Solutions
4
Alert Innovation
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Ohi

Inventory management

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Bossa Nova Robotics
98
Pensa Systems
28
Simbe Robotics
26
RADAR
16
Zippedi
0
Fellow Robots
Unknown
MetraLabs
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Keonn Technologies
Orby

Floor cleaning

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Brain Corp
161
Techmetics Robotics
3
MetraLabs
Unknown

Customer assistance and analytics

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
RetailNext
226
Cosmose
27
Promobot
8
Techmetics Robotics
3
Fellow Robots
Unknown
MetraLabs
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Keonn Technologies
Mule Robotics

Fabric

Fabric, (formerly known as CommonSense Robotics), is a provider of on-demand micro-fulfillment solutions. The company was founded in 2015 in Israel by Shay Cohen, Elram Goren, and Ori Avraham—all who were former high-ranking officers in the Israel Defense Forces, Intelligence Technology unit. Fabric’s micro-fulfillment centers use autonomous mobile robots that operate around the center floor to collect and deliver items for packaging and allows retailers to provide a one-hour delivery service to their online customers. Although the company started off as a robotics venture, it does not offer individual robots. Instead, the primary product is an integrated turnkey solution for online grocers. Fabric owns and operates each turnkey facility, from which it offers fulfillment on a pay-per-order basis. This strategy sets Fabric apart from the competition as they are marketing to small online retailers, while most in the industry target larger retailers only.

Fabric is known for having built the smallest micro-fulfillment center (6,000 sq ft), based entirely on its own in-house technology. Fabric’s latest funding round of Series B USD 110 million February 2020 was announced to be used to expand into the US market. The company is in the process of building 14 sites in the US including a 10,000 sq ft facility in the Washington DC Metro area. In July 2020, The company entered into a partnership with FreshDirect (online grocer) to use the facility once it is up and running. In July 2021, Fabric partnered with Instacart, a provider of grocery delivery and pick-up services, to jointly offer automated order fulfillment services to grocery retailers in North America.

Segment:
Micro-fulfillment
Total funding:
USD 136.0 million
Competitors:
Takeoff Technologies, Dematic, Alert Innovation
Disruptor Funding History

Micro-fulfillment:

Fabric
Exotec Solutions
TakeOff Technologies
Ox Fulfillment Solutions
Ohi

Inventory management:

Bossa Nova Robotics
Pensa Systems
Simbe Robotics
RADAR
Zippedi
Keonn Technologies

Floor cleaning:

The Incumbents

Most incumbents already operate as business-to-business robotic providers with acquisitions and partnerships used as the most common market entry strategies

Most retail robotics industry incumbents develop technology in-house or partner with companies that provide related services to obtain and co-develop their technology. Most of these companies already operate as established robotic suppliers focusing on the business-to-business (B2B) market. There are also some retailers—such as Amazon and Ocado—who have developed their own technology, especially in the micro-fulfillment area, while also selling their technology to other retailers. Several incumbents such as FANUC Corporation and Vargo that were already developing robots in related areas such as warehouse robots have recognized the opportunity and entered the micro-fulfillment space.

In-house development

Acquisition

Partnership

Investment

Amazon Robotics
check
check
Jabil
check
Zebra Technologies
check
LG
check
check
DEMATIC
check
check
SoftBank Robotics Group
check
check
Ocado Retail
check
check
Soft Robotics
check
Sensormatic Solutions
check
check
AutoStore
check
Tennant
check
VARGO
check
Piaggio
check
FANUC Corporation
check
Attabotics
check
Amazon Robotics

Amazon Robotics was established in 2012, following Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems. Kiva Systems specialized in the manufacture of mobile robotic fulfillment systems in warehouses and micro-fulfillment centers. Prior to the acquisition, Kiva Systems’ had presence among e-tailers such as Diapers.com and Zappos.com, which Amazon also acquired. Following the acquisition of Kiva, Amazon Robotics acquired several other robotic startups in the fulfillment space, such as Canvas Technology, further improving operational efficiency. Amazon currently does not offer customers fulfillment solutions but uses Kiva Systems’ technology to run its e-commerce fulfillment centers.

Notable Investors

Funding data are powered by Crunchbase

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