Mars pilots robot technology to deliver treats to in-store shoppers

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

The new Mars' robot is called Smiley and is being piloted in the Wakefern  store in Monroe. Pic: Mars Wrigley
The new Mars' robot is called Smiley and is being piloted in the Wakefern store in Monroe. Pic: Mars Wrigley

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Mars Wrigley and Wakefern introduce robot technology to enhance the in-store shopping experience and drive engagement by bringing checkout items to people in other parts of the store.

Mars Wrigley has pledged to bring ‘better moments and more smiles to shoppers’ with the introduction of a new robot, called ‘Smiley’, in stores that will display and deliver items normally found at checkout to customers while they shop.

The global confectionery giant has partnered with Wakefern Food Corp, the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the US, and Savioke, a robotics provider, and will pilot the dynamic robotic technology at a ShopRite store in Monroe, NY.

Catchy tunes and dancing

Smiley features catchy tunes and dancing as it makes its rounds through the store offering treats for sale. The robot uses the latest in self-driving technology to ensure safe operation and includes sanitation wipes to safeguard shoppers.

The project was enabled by Mars Wrigley’s Launchpad, a digital innovation programme established in 2017.

Launchpad focuses on innovating ways in which Mars Wrigley markets and sells its iconic brands, including M&M’S, SKITTLES and EXTRA, through meaningful partnerships with startups.

Mars said to date, Launchpad has delivered 60 pilots through actively assessing and engaging with over 300 startups.

Speed and convenience

According to the company, research has shown that 78% of shoppers are choosing self-checkout for speed and convenience. As a result, traditional shopping patterns at checkout are shifting—especially when it comes to the last minute, impulse purchase.

As a Treats & Snacks category leader, we know that while trips to stores are becoming more focused and retailers are moving to more seamless in-store shopping experiences, shoppers still want to be surprised or indulge in impulse purchases​,” said Matt Tice, Director of Grocery Category Leadership at Mars Wrigley.  “Introducing innovative solutions like ‘Smiley’ will help retailers shake up traditional merchandising, improve their consumers’ shopping experience and drive sales​.”

Smiley can also detect the number of people in its vicinity and display social distancing messages. During this initial phase, the companies will work together to understand how to best inspire impulse purchases wherever shoppers are located within the store.

We are excited to welcome Smiley to the ShopRite in Monroe​,” said Karen Meleta, Chief Communications Officer for Wakefern. “This technology, which we are testing at the store, provides another way to help customers shop—and it’s fun​.”

Related topics R&D Chocolate Candy Gum Mars

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