Hardware retailer adopts mobile robots for inventory control

marty the robot scans shelves at a stine store.
Marty the robot, from Badger Technologies, scans inventory at a Stine hardware store. | Credit: Badger Technologies


Stine is a 13-store hardware retail chain that serves customers throughout Louisiana and Mississippi with a vast inventory of home-improvement products and building material supplies. Long recognized for its dedication to the communities it serves, Stine received the 2014 National Golden Hammer Retailer of the Year award for its strong performance, adoption of industry best practices, and ambitious plans for the future.

Stine now has a goal to improve operational efficiencies and customer service excellence. The retailer wanted to leverage robotics to offload manual, tedious tasks from store associates, and ease the burden of persistent labor shortages. A secondary goal was to improve on-shelf product availability by generating actionable data and analytics a more accurate view of shelf conditions.


Stine decided to implement autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) from Badger Technologies, a product division of Jabil. The robot, named Marty, features on-board cameras that allow it to see not only in high-resolution detail, but also in 3D. This combination enables the robot to safely navigate the store and to capture high-fidelity data. In addition to high-resolution cameras and rotating lidar, the Badger robot comes equipped with a suite of sensors that keep it clear of shoppers or other objects.

“We always look for innovative ways to increase productivity by removing operational obstacles,” said Robert Spears, CIO, Stine. “Badger Technologies’ robots free our associates from time-consuming inventory checks, enabling them to help customers while ensuring our products are placed and priced correctly.”


Stine said the inventory-tracking AMRs enabled its stores to detect out-of-stock (OOS) products with more than 95% accuracy, while also helping to decrease OOS products by up to 50%. Additionally, Stine said the robots improved price-tag accuracy by more than 97%.

The collection and correlation of sell-through and pricing-trend data, OOS duration, and frequency, enable retailers to prioritize product replenishment. Badger Technologies’ multipurpose robots also support elevating store safety and cleanliness by identifying hazards, such as spills of liquids, powders, or bulk-item foods, to mitigate risk further.

“Our multipurpose autonomous robots offer much-needed relief by extending staff operations and producing critical data to increase efficiencies and improve shopping experiences,” said William Santiago, CEO of Badger Technologies. “The robots deployed by Stine are helping improve customer satisfaction, storewide operations, and retail revenues.”

At press time, Badger had deployed nearly 700 robots to retailers, including Stop & Shop. The grocer recently expanded its use of Badger’s robots to more than 300 stores throughout the Northeast.

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.