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This is how humans and robots can coexist in the workforce

Earlier this year, Margiotta, a Scottish supermarket chain, employed and terminated its inaugural in-store automaton within a single week.

‘Fabio’ encountered difficulty in navigating the store and directing consumers to the products they were seeking.

Furthermore, a German consumer electronics retail chain discovered that its in-store robot, ‘Tom,’ was being avoided by shoppers. In an effort to captivate customers, the company programmed the robot to perform in the “Gangnam style.”

According to Dr. Rebecca Dare, the managing director of the Australian Consumer, Retail and Services (ACRS) commercial research unit within Monash Business School’s Department of Marketing, robots have the potential to operate seamlessly with both customers and employees. However, this will necessitate a significant amount of “technological ingenuity.”

Dr. Dare specifically stated that robots can be successfully introduced to the Australian retail market with the implementation of enhanced “intelligent” facial designs.

Dr. Dare stated that while Australians may hesitate to interact with robots during grocery purchasing, they could provide a variety of benefits, such as faster product selection, aisle navigation, and payment options, that could encourage consumers to return to traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

“In order for in-store robots to have a positive and meaningful impact on customers and retailers, further development of these robots that promote human interaction is necessary.”

Walmart has initiated the testing of a novel autonomous robot, ‘Auto-C,’ in 78 stores throughout the United States. This robot is responsible for the task of cleaning the floors. Walmart employees will be able to more effectively interact with consumers as a result of the technology’s imminent deployment to over 360 stores.

Dr. Dare further stated that the robot’s design and job description are not in alignment, resulting in a lack of engagement between humans and robotics.

“The robot’s face is a critical design component.” The majority of the in-store robots currently available, including ‘Tom’, ‘Pepper’, and ‘Paul’, have been designed with round, friendly expressions, albeit submissive, according to Dr. Dare.

Dr. Dare stated that it is crucial for the role these robots are being employed to perform in retail stores that a design of longer and more dominant faces signal competence and intelligence, despite the fact that these types of faces signal kindness and trustworthiness.

Dr. Dare also emphasized that in order to optimize customer engagement, robot developers and retailers must align their technology with customer requirements and products.

“In addition to the facial shape, in-store robots should facilitate the connection between shoppers and human assistance when necessary, rather than obliterating the human element from the shopping experience,” she stated.

This is a critical factor to consider, particularly in light of the fact that 75% of global consumers, on average, desire to engage with a real person more as technology advances.

This is notably prevalent among customers in Germany, the United States, and Australia, with rates of 84%, 82%, and 81%, respectively.