We’re always excited to see new innovations in retail. This week, Lowe’s Innovation Labs released a promotional video of their new OSHbot project that will go live in a single San Jose retail location in the coming months. In short, OSHbot is a customer service robot that can guide customers to products, offer promotions and speak multiple languages.
- Help guide customers to products in-store
- Answer specific questions
- Connect to actual in-store associates
- Speak multiple languages
- Do 3D product scanning
- Avoid objects or people in its path
- Display digital signage and offer promotions
Robots or Tablets?
While pushing robotics technology is undoubtedly cool — it’s just not scalable. I can only imagine how expensive these units are and will remain for the foreseeable future. But, having an actual OSHbot in every store is not really the goal here (at least not initially). Lowe’s wants to understand patterns that will help them improve the customer experience. They want to add digital touchpoints to physical experiences.
Learnings from OSHbot will drive further innovations at Lowe’s retail stores and, I believe, drive them to simplified self-service experiences via customer smartphones and store-based tablet kiosks.
The Lowe’s mobile app will communicate with in-store iBeacons to deliver real-time offers and timely service — including self-checkout. And, in-store kiosks will do much of the same, but in an immersive experience.
For me, this experience would come in handy when searching for an unusual item or when shopping at a Lowe’s in an unfamiliar town. Now, if only the local grocery store could generate a personalized map of everything on my wife’s shopping list… that would help occasional grocery store shoppers (like myself) be much more efficient.
While OSHbot is cool and fun, my bet is on learnings that will pave the way for location-aware mobile apps and in-store dedicated devices (tablets, touchscreens, etc.) that will make for a more enjoyable and efficient shopping experience. We’re already helping hundreds of customers worldwide deliver improved customer service and secure checkout via tablet kiosks.