A new kind of tech is arriving at your local liquor store. The BevMo! on Stevens Creek Boulevard now has a robot to help you find your favorite spirit.
Santa Clara’s BevMo! is one of two stores that are testing out the robot. The other is in Walnut Creek. The robot was initially designed to roam the store to make sure the shelves were stocked and do a daily inventory, but BevMo! developers soon found they had something much greater on their hands.
“We, initially, were really skeptical about having it engage with customers and were focused around more of the operational efficiencies of it,” said Tamara Pattison, Chief Marketing and Information Officer for BevMo!. “As we started to see customer engagement grow with it, we started to push the boundaries of how we used it.”
BevMo! District Manager Rich Matosich oversees the Santa Clara store. He says “she’s” a great help to the customers.
“You can’t trick her,” said Matosich. “She knows where everything is and she’ll take you right to it. [She’s] extremely knowledgeable and friendly.”
Pattison says that was a big benefit during the holidays when the robot served as another store employee able to take newer customers, who were unfamiliar with the store, right to what they were looking for.
“I think some customers love it; they think it’s unique. Other customers aren’t as comfortable,” said Pattison. “We are very much learning that you cannot profile the customer that does or does not want to engage.”
As for the employees, they have embraced the robot.
“She’s just kind of another part of the team,” said Matosich. “She goes wherever around the store, basically like an employee.”
“Our employees love it. They see it as a huge upside that gives them the opportunity to spend more time talking to our customers,” said Pattison. “They early adopted it as another tool that [they] can use.”
Once a day, the robot will move up and down the aisles in the store, scanning the shelves. It does not take pictures, only scans store tags and then makes a note of items that are out of stock or items that need to be reordered. That inventory is then sent to store and district managers via an app.
If its battery runs low during a pass through the store, the robot is programmed to find its way back to a docking station to recharge.
BevMo! will continue the test run for another month before deciding where to go from there. Pattison says the project has two real goals.
“[First], is the business case around the operational efficiency. BevMologists can really utilize their time serving customers and less [time] worrying about whether we’re out of stock,” said Pattison. “Second, is testing customers with whether they’re willing to engage with AI.”
Pattison says the test will be considered a success if the robot adds value to a customer’s experience at BevMo! without taking away from employee satisfaction.
The robot runs during business hours at the BevMo! store located at 3149 Stevens Creek Blvd.