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Autonomous Mobile Robots Usher in a Retail Cleaning Revolution

July 19, 2023 8:12 AM by Tennant Company

Posted in Cleaning Solutions Innovation & Technology Industry News & Trends

Autonomous Mobile Robots Usher in a Retail Cleaning Revolution

In recent years, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have burst onto the retail floor as a practical and increasingly essential cleaning strategy for retailers. It’s no longer unusual to see robotic cleaning machines working alongside humans, tackling the more repetitive and routine jobs such as floor cleaning. That’s because robotics technologies provide many advantages that help retailers solve key challenges and create a competitive advantage.

In the last few years, robotics has really turned heads in the retail industry. In fact, analysts predict that robotics adoption in retail will surge through 2030—with use of robotics in retail expected to grow nearly 40% annually, according to ABI Research. A RetailWire study revealed that one in four retailers are already using in-store robotics and 77% of larger retailers are prioritizing building a definitive robotics strategy. The top use cases for robotics in retail range from floor cleaning, shelf scanning, and planogram compliance, to pricing accuracy checks and order picking.

Strong headwinds are the new normal

Retailers today face a multitude of tough headwinds that aren’t showing signs of receding. Customer expectations are higher than ever and ongoing labor shortages and rising labor costs are at the center of the storm. Labor challenges from unfilled positions to high turnover continue to be a major hurdle for retailers. In 2023, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that labor force participation rate and the employment-population rate remain below their pre-pandemic February 2020 levels. This pain is acutely felt by retailers.

In turn, customer expectations are also adding pressure and the RetailWire study shows that heightened cleanliness standards are here to stay. Nearly two-thirds (72%) of retailers agreed that consumer expectations around store cleanliness aren’t returning to pre-pandemic standards and 36% of retailers believe there is no end in sight to maintain pandemic levels of store cleanliness. Furthermore, 85% of consumers say that visible cleaning is critically important.

Revolutionary cleaning technology for unprecedented times

Robotic floor cleaning machines provide a powerful solution in a tight labor market with rising costs and heightened customer expectations. Using autonomous mobile robots for the frequent, methodical floor scrubbing frees up more time for the limited number of staff to focus on wiping down and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and other key infection-control measures in a retail store.

AMR floor scrubbing machines are fitted with sophisticated, AI-driven technology and sensors that allow them to navigate cleaning retail sales floors seamlessly and safely—even when customers and sales staff are present. They use the same proven floor cleaning mechanics most retailers already use but operate without the need for a human to guide the cleaning path.

The new co-worker for your cleaning crew

Tennant AMRs are the new co-workers in many retail operations today. They have made major inroads in keeping retail store floors clean and appealing to customers. So far, 3,375 Tennant AMRs have been deployed in retail operations—cleaning 43.66 billion ft2 of retail space.

That translates to an average of 13,000 ft2 cleaned per day, per machine by robotic floor cleaning machines.

All of this is made possible by robotic innovations such as Tennant’s T380AMR machine, which has a high-capacity lithium ion battery that enables a run time of up to 11 hours in a 24-hour period. Especially well-suited to cleaning retail stores, the compact T380AMR Robotic Floor Scrubber empowers retailers to increase cleaning productivity, maintain a high standard of cleaning, and clean narrow aisles and spaces autonomously.

Data + insights = action

Beyond the AMR machine itself, another outcome of robotic floor scrubbers is the data that’s generated to help retailers improve in-store operations. These machines provide performance data on which areas of the store were cleaned and how frequently. They also enable real-time reporting to provide proof of cleanliness and help store leaders gain confidence they have a clean store that can help create a better customer experience (CX).

With data and real-time reporting, retailers have powerful insights they can use to take action. For instance, a retailer could use the information gained from the robotic scrubber to re-deploy cleaning crews to other higher-value tasks that support CX—including cleaning bathrooms, stocking shelves, collecting carts, etc.

Holistic value of robotic cleaning machines

Cleaning retail operations is experiencing a revolution thanks to the development of robotic cleaning machines. They provide a continuous cycle of robotics value: improving operational consistency, effectively managing costs, re-deploying labor to add more business value, generating data-driven insights and improving CX.

Many retailers have already jumped onboard the robotics cleaning revolution for these reasons. The question for retailers that haven’t adopted robotics yet is whether they want to get ahead of the curve or continue chasing from behind.

Get the Tennant retail AMR infographic.

Read more about why your retail operation needs a robotics cleaning strategy.

Learn more about robotic floor scrubbers from Tennant.


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