Shoppers take a peek-a-Bo at the future of retail

Oct 24, 2017

Bo, Europe’s first ever shopping centre robot, interacted with shoppers, directed them to different parts of the centre and collected feedback about their shopping experience. It also told shoppers about special offers at some of the centre’s stores, designed to test the potential of the technology to drive shoppers to stores and other locations.

Robot specialist BotsAndUs, the brains behind the one-meter-high ‘shop-bot’, is one of seven start-up businesses collaborating with intu to test new retail technology at its shopping centres and online at intu.co.uk.

The robots have been used in the hospitality sector before but this is the first time the company has run a shopping centre trial. 

BotsAndUs is one of several other innovations that are being trialled as part of intu Accelerate, a ten-week start-up incubator being run by intu to develop new technologies for UK retail.

intu chief executive David Fischel said: “Retail has always been an inventive industry and the UK has remained at the forefront of this. We have launched intu Accelerate to drive forward innovative technology that will entertain and engage shoppers and help businesses to flourish.

“It is giving talented new businesses like BotsandUs and WoraPay the opportunity to trial their ideas within live environments and test their potential to shape the future of retail.”

Andrei Danescu, chief executive of BotsAndUs, added: “Robots in retail are still very much a novelty, especially when supporting shoppers with practical tasks such as helping them to find what they are looking for or to take advantage of the latest promotions.”

Technology provider Infraspeak, which uses reactive sensors, user-friendly apps and powerful software to make building management easier, is also running a live trial at intu Trafford Centre as part of intu Accelerate.

The other companies taking part are:

  • GoInStore which uses physical retail spaces to drive up web traffic and orders by creating live in-store video experiences for online customers;
  • Percent, an app that helps shoppers raise money for charity as a small portion of their debit or credit card spend is automatically donated by retailers to their chosen charity;
  • Soza Health, which offers customers health assessments and tailored recommendations to optimise their health;
  • Toky Woky, a community live-chat facility where customers browsing an online shop can receive real time advice from fellow shoppers. 
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