Automated retail

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A Best Buy Express vending machine at an airport terminal, stocked with electronics by Zoom Systems.

Automated retail is the category of self-service, standalone kiosks that operate as fully automatic retail stores through the use of software integrations to replace the traditional retail services inside in a traditional retail store. These standalone kiosks are often located in heavily trafficked locations such as airports, malls, resorts and transit hubs.[1]

Consumers often browse and select products using a touchscreen interface that operates similar to an ecommerce website, pay for purchases using a credit or debit card, and then the product is dispensed through a system other than gravity fed drop systems, often via a robotic arm inside the kiosk.[2]

These software integrations, the consumer experience and the delivery mechanisms are what differentiate automated retail stores from a vending machine.

ZoomShops and Redbox are examples.[3] Though the vending units can be dressed up with a touchscreen, they are considered smart vending units. There is a wide discrepancy between the revenue results from smart vending units and automated retail units. Lower cost products are better suited for smart vending, whereas more expensive products such as luxury items, cosmetics, electronics and other such products will perform better in automated retail machines.[4] The retail units are several times more expensive than the smart vending units; however, the cost can be justified based on revenues generated. The Source self-service automated retail units accept debit and credit cards to dispense electronics, much like the Best Buy units.[5]

The Source Automated Retail Kiosk Dispensing Electronics at the International Airport By Signifi Solutions Inc.

Warehouse automation[edit]

ASC (Auto Store Company) provides retailers and brands with 24/7/365 automated shopping platforms that reduce costs and increase revenue opportunities. The entire customer experience becomes easier and more familiar through ASC’s “virtual sales assistant” (avatar) technology. By enabling countless new points-of-sales and converting storefronts into “shoppable windows”, ASC delivers the benefits of the automated banking (ATM) revolution to the world of retail.
Herbalife ASC - Situated in Moscow, Russia

Schaefer Case Picking[edit]

SSI Schaefer's Schaefer Case Picking system is a fully automated, customizable picking solution for retail. It manages all aspects from unloading of incoming pallets and intermediate storage to the ordering and repackaging of cases into new pallets. The SCP uses a computer vision system to identify items, removing the requirement of other identification schemes such as those involving barcodes or RFID tags. It can automatically select and palletize products according to store layout or other customer criteria, and prepare the products for shipping. The system reduces labor requirements, product loss, and energy consumption by way of a more accurate, route-optimized computer-controlled system that reduces wait time and increases pallet throughput. Additionally, it reduces transportation costs by optimizing the density of individual pallets, selecting combinations of product cases that lead to more product per unit volume.[6][7]

Order picking machinery[edit]

Witron's Order Picking Machinery is an automated storage and picking system that can automatically stack around 95% of the products onto pallets or roll containers. The system uses a loading device called COM (Case Order Machine) to pick cases onto load carriers. Advantages of the system include high cost-efficiency, ergonomics and optimization during transport.[8]

Replenishment system[edit]

Witron's Shelf Replenishment System uses a conveyor system to push the goods directly into the shelf.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Body Shop deploying automated retail shops Archived August 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  2. ^ Alyssa, Bary. (2005-10-24) Zoom Systems Offers iPod Vending Machines | News & Opinion. Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  3. ^ Now available at vending machines: GPS, iPods, cameras .... July 24, 2010
  4. ^ Vaidya, Kunal (2016-06-13) | The Business Case for Automated Retail Kiosks
  5. ^ Vaidya, Kunal. (2015-08-22) | The Source Expands Presence at Toronto Pearson International Airport. December 22, 2014
  6. ^ "SCHAEFER CASE PICKING - Automatic selection and palletization of mixed full-case orders" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Schaefer Case Picking". SSI SCHAEFER. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Order Picking Machinery" (PDF). 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  9. ^ "WITRON unveils automatic shelf replenishment system". 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27.