More than 150,000 mobile robots will be deployed in brick-and-mortar stores globally by 2025, according to a report from technology market advisory firm ABI Research, released this week.
The London-based company said retail is a prime growth driver in the mobile robotics sector, especially as retailers strive to develop their omnichannel business strategies and tackle last-mile delivery demands. Applications include inventory management, material handling in the back room and on the shop floor, and for last-mile delivery as robotics companies develop indoor-to-outdoor solutions, the researcher said.
"Big retailers have demonstrated their ability to scale their robotic products much more easily than other markets. For example, Kroger has developed a partnership with pioneering last-mile delivery company Nuro, and Walmart is leading the industry in technology development, albeit under the radar," Rian Whitton, ABI senior robotics analyst, said in a statement announcing the findings. "As they look to keep an aggressive pace in last-mile delivery, Walmart has also filed more drone patents than even Amazon."
Looking ahead, the researchers said customer demand for accuracy and speed of delivery will continue to give retailers a "sense of urgency around robots and automation."