Hy-Vee deploys Tally robots to count in-store inventory

Simbe Tally robot in a Hyvee grocery aisle
Tally autonomously traverses the grocery aisles to capture real time inventory levels. | Image credit: Simbe

Hy-Vee operates more than 240 retail stores in eight Midwestern states, including Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The company has announced a new partnership with retail intelligence provider Simbe, to help automate the collection of in-store inventory data. The initial deployment of Simbe Tally robots will start in stores across Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

Tally is an autonomous mobile robot, outfitted with high-resolution cameras. Tally can safely navigate the aisles of a grocery store while continuously capturing images of all of the store shelving using TallyVision. The robot can identify and avoid shoppers, shopping carts and in-aisle displays.

Simbe Robotics – Introducing Tally 3.0 from Simbe Robotics on Vimeo.

Real-time inventory data gathering

Once the inventory images are captured, the Simbe image processing software identifies items on the shelves and produces a complete planogram and inventory roll up. This enables retailers to improve the customer experience through more frequent and accurate inventory, pricing and promotion information.

Tally uses TallyVision™ to look at, and make sense of products in store 3x a day, 365 days a year. | Image credit: Simbe

With the inventory data, store managers and inventory clerks can quickly be alerted to pending low stock or stock out situations, and restock the low inventory items before it impacts customer satisfaction. Tally autonomously scans tens of thousands of products across grocery, health and wellness aisles up to three times per day to ensure products are in stock, in the correct location, and correctly priced.

“Hy-Vee has a strong reputation for excellent customer service and an employee-first culture,” said Luke Tingley, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Hy-Vee. “By employing Tally, we can continue providing that excellent service by reducing out of stocks and empowering our store teams with real-time insights to ensure the best customer experience across the board.”

Tally insights enable retailers to provide the best customer experience in-store, in addition to making better, more informed business decisions. With Tally, Hy-Vee will be able to deliver insights into the state of its stores, giving employees real-time recommendations to improve store operations and maximize customer satisfaction. In addition, store managers will have more accurate order forecasting and the ability to optimize the store layout to support sales.

Tally is easy to deploy

Tally requires no infrastructure changes to the store environment to operate effectively and is thoughtfully designed to be unobtrusive to the shopper’s experience. The robot strategically navigates store aisles during normal store hours, safely maneuvering alongside shoppers and employees.

“No other retail solution supports store teams the way Tally does. The pandemic truly created a ‘new normal’ for grocery that has illuminated the need for a greater frequency and fidelity of in-store data,” said Brad Bogolea, CEO and Co-Founder of Simbe Robotics. “Hy-Vee is the perfect example of thoughtfully adopting technology to improve the store experience for both customers and their teams. As retailers face a growing number of considerations, Tally provides a cost-effective solution that ensures they can continue to provide excellent customer service and create a valuable, more enjoyable working environment for their employees.”

Tally robots are already in Hy-Vee stores in Ankeny, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska, and will be rolling out to locations in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska, Altoona, Iowa, in the coming weeks.

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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.