Simbe brings its robots to more stores
Simbe Robotics plans to bring its autonomous shelf-scanning retail robot to more retailers with freshly-raised capital, CEO Brad Bogolea tells Axios.
Why it matters: Solving the excess inventory challenge calls for automation, with inventory robot startups emerging and amassing funding.
Driving the news: This month, San Francisco-based Simbe raised $28 million in a Series B round led by Eclipse.
State of play: Simbe joins a host of inventory robot startups that have recently notched fundraises. In the past month alone...
- B Garage, a San Jose, Calif.-based drone inventory startup, raised $20 million.
- Verity, a Swiss drone-delivery firm, snagged $11 million.
- Dexory, a London startup that uses robots and AI to provide inventory management data from warehouses, raised $19 million.
How it works: Simbe's robot, dubbed Tally, moves through store aisles three to four times a day to retrieve product location data, which helps retailers identify out-of-stock items, and misplaced or mispriced products.
- “With a mobile platform, it keeps up very well with changes within the environments, whereas fixed infrastructure will often need to be reset,” says Bogolea.
What’s next: Simbe, which launched its robots across BJ’s Wholesale Club chains this spring, is also partnering with retailers like Schnucks Markets, SpartanNash, Wakefern and Carrefour.
- The company focuses on larger grocers, ones with 50 to 100 stores or more.
- Simbe plans to move into other store formats and categories, such as general-merchandise retailers, as well as drug, value, and convenience stores, Bogolea says.
- Simbe hopes to leverage its data to represent downstream monetization opportunities for both the retailers and the company, he adds.
What they’re saying: “The store shelf is kind of a data gap,” Bogolea says.
- Determining if a product needs to be restocked, is in the wrong store, or is stolen is key to managing inventory well, he adds.
- “You really need true instrumentation at the shelf level to unlock this value,” he says.
- Through leveraging its system, Bogolea says grocers can use the data to boost sales, improve margins and help employees to solve problems quickly.
Catch up fast: In 2019, the company raised $26 million in a Series A led by Venrock with participation from Future Shape, Valo Ventures and Activant Capital.
- At the same time, the company also inked a financing agreement with SoftBank Robotics to augment its robot.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Simbe does not collect data on customers and to clarify that some of its retail partnerships are underway.