Mars Wrigley Partners With Wakefern To Test Shopping Robot

Newark, NJ — Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC, in partnership with retailer Wakefern Food Corp. and Savioke, Inc., a robotics provider, is introducing dynamic robotic technology at a ShopRite store in Monroe, NY. The robot, dubbed ‘Smiley,’ displays and delivers items normally found at checkout to customers throughout the store. The company describes it as a way to bring better moments and more smiles to shoppers.

Smiley plays catchy tunes and dances as it makes its rounds through the store offering treats for sale. The robot uses the latest in self-driving technology to ensure safe operation and includes sanitation wipes to safeguard shoppers. This pilot was made possible through Mars Wrigley’s Launchpad program, a digital innovation program established in 2017. Launchpad focuses on innovating the ways in which Mars Wrigley markets and sells its brands through partnerships with startups. To date, Launchpad has delivered 60 pilots through actively assessing and engaging with more than 300 startups.

Mars Wrigley notes research has shown 78 percent 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, unplanned purchase. Mars Wrigley and Wakefern are using the robot 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.

“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,” says 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.”

 “We are excited to welcome Smiley to the ShopRite in Monroe,” says Karen Meleta, chief communications officer for Wakefern. “This technology, which we are testing at the store, provides another way to help customers shop — and it’s fun.”

The robot will display a variety of Mars Wrigley products typically found at the checkout to shoppers throughout the Shoprite store. In addition, its actions can be quickly and easily modified to optimize engagement, support store promotions and deploy new behaviors. The company notes it can also detect the number of people in its vicinity and display social distancing messages. During this initial phase, the companies will work together to understand how to best inspire unplanned purchases wherever shoppers are located within the store.