- Hugo Walker
Shelfie: The new AI that automatically detects shelf shortages
New software which detects gaps on shelves has been introduced to UK convenience stores. Rav Garcha, a Nisa retailer who also runs the tech company Crucial Tech, has brought in an AI system, called Shelfie, to automate the shelving and restocking process. It has now been launched in three Nisa retailers.
Shelfie uses cameras to take continuous pictures of items on the shelves. When the items are missing, or low in stock, the AI will send a message to the Shelfie app which will notify staff of the shortage. Existing infrastructure such as CCTV can be integrated with Shelfie to save on investing in new pieces of kit. Overall, Shelfie costs around £5 a day to run.
Mr Garcha commented: “It’s about making sure the stock is in the right place at the right time before the shopper turns up. Today’s customer is far more mobile and fickle. If you haven’t got the product that the customer needs at that time, you could lose that customer. It could be make or break. And the cost of acquiring a new customer is hard.”
Mr Garcha also discussed the role of tech like Shelfie in creating an efficient working environment: ”The behaviour that we have created as retailers is that we need an extra staff member in to meet those peaks,” he said. “Is the milk ready? Are sandwiches ready?"
“But because of the amount of things that we need to do in a store, that stock is often still getting worked when that customer arrives. The idea of the software is to prepare the store team with what needs to be done before it’s required with the staff they already have. Over a course of a year, that could be one member of staff not needed which could equate to £15,000 to £20,000 a year.”