By Karen S. Herman, CEO of Gustie Creative
A new type of food delivery service has landed in local restaurants, and it is not the Uber Eats or DoorDash that may come to mind. Ah, this new type of restaurant delivery service is sleek and efficient, plays music and changes facial expressions as it glides from table to table, carrying freshly prepared dishes for your server to set in front of you. It’s a smart delivery robot that is full of cutting edge technology and operates on an algorithm that maps the restaurant floorplan.
I was delighted when BellaBot, a smart delivery robot, quietly glided towards our table while dining out in Delray Beach recently. Clearly, I was not the only one, and it made me happy to see other people dining in the restaurant point at BellaBot and smile when it delivered their food, some taking photos to share.
The BellaBot, designed by Pudu Robotics, is a commercial service robot built with humanoid functions that make it friendly and approachable. I found this to be true and learned that by stroking the top of the BellaBot, it’s cat-like face changes to a smile to show appreciation. The BellaBot was used extensively in Hong Kong during the coronavirus pandemic, to deliver food to hotel guests, as just one example.
At Gustie, we have been tracking the development of robots for retail and food service use for the last few years. These robots can offer a frictionless experience that provides convenience, immediacy, and safety due to contactless or low touch use and limited human interaction.
The Mall of America has experimented with Pepper, a humanoid robot developed by Softbank, to direct customers to specific locations throughout the mall, talk with shoppers regarding current promotions and provide customer service. Results indicate that Pepper increased interactions with customers by 98% and increased foot traffic by 20%, leading to an increase in revenue.
In hospitality, Hilton has used a Robot Concierge named Connie that operates on an AI platform developed by IBM. Connie interacts with guests and uses speech recognition technology to respond to questions. Machine learning helps Connie improve with each human interaction and is expected to improve her performance over time.
These robots are an expensive undertaking. For the most part, they have been deployed by larger companies in partnership with AI or robotics firms. For a smaller retailer or restaurant owner, these robots can help with many tasks. They can alleviate the need for humans to do mundane and repetitive tasks, so staff members can focus on better customer service and faster order fulfillment. And the unique experience of seeing and engaging with a robot has a long-lasting impact on the customer.
You can learn more about these robots online at CreateDisruptiveRetail.com. You can also read about them in our business handbook, SOLUTIONS FOR DISRUPTING DISRUPTION, THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE FOR BRANDS AND BUSINESSES. This inspiring and actionable handbook offers best practices for anyone who is passionate about finding new solutions to move their brand or business forward in today’s challenging business environment. You can purchase the digital download or book at GustieCreative.com and CreateDisruptiveRetail.com.