April 19, 2018 – Food Lion has introduced in-store helper, Marty the Robot, at a store in La Follette, Tennessee. These friendly robotic “associates” have been roaming the aisles of several Giant / Martin’s stores since last year, and now Food Lion is also putting the concept to the test. Marty maneuvers around using advanced artificial intelligence and the same laser imaging technology found in self-driving vehicles. He can perform checks that help the store run more smoothly and safely for both customers and associates.
Marty clean sweeps the store twelves times each day to identify slip and fall hazards on the floor and alert associates. When he finds a severe hazard, he pages associates and positions himself by the spill, notifying customers to be cautious. Marty can also scan the shelves for out-of-stocks and to check that shelf pricing is aligned with the front end register system.
With his big eyes, nametag and Shop & Earn ribbon, Marty has been hard at work at the La Follette store for a number of weeks now, and has drawn a great deal of attention from associates and customers alike. While the store is open, Marty quietly goes about his business, moving up and down the aisles and calmly avoiding people or other obstacles. He “sleeps” at night in a charging station so he is powered up and ready to work each morning.
Store manager Cindy McCulloch says at first Marty was something of a curiosity to both associates and customers, but has quickly become a valued member of the store team. Customers still stop and look, and associates quickly make introductions. "He's becoming quite popular, and many of our customers come by the store with friends and family just to 'meet' our newest associate." They’ve even seen numerous Facebook postings and selfies with Marty.
In addition to the La Follette store, these helpful robots are currently in four Giant / Martin’s stores in Pennsylvania and the brand plans to deploy them to all 171 Giant / Martin’s stores by the end of 2018. In future, they hope to improve the design to incorporate temperature checks and reporting so store managers can focus on other activities.