Mars trials breakthrough US robotic serving system to engage in-store shoppers

A breakthrough confectionery experience has been trialled in New York, US, as Mars Wrigley teams up with retail group Wakefern Food Corp, and technology firm Savioke, for an eye-catching robot serving venture, reports Neill Barston.

Deployed as a pilot scheme at a Shoprite store in Monroe, the high-tech collaboration showcased an advanced self-driving system in a bid to bring a smile to shoppers faces amid challenging pandemic-affected times.

According to Mars, the new store robot, known as Smiley, displays and delivers items normally found at checkout to customers as they browse the aisles, and has been programmed to highlight the manufacturer’s key brand lines.

The pilot was enabled by confectionery group’s Launchpad program, a digital innovation system established in 2017, which focuses on innovating the ways in which Mars Wrigley markets and sells its core ranges including M&Ms, Skittles and Extra, through meaningful partnerships with startups.

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

Mars Wrigley and Wakefern are using Smiley to enhance the in-store shopping experience and drive engagement beyond the checkout aisle by bringing checkout items to people in other parts of the store.

“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.”

His views were echoed by Karen Meleta, Chief Communications Officer for Wakefern, who believed the robotic-based system provided a fun, alternative means of engaging with customers.


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