Robots are taking strides in retail workforces

The forecast: In 2020, 34.0% of medium to large US warehouse and fulfillment center operators (with more than $10 million in annual revenues) had robots deployed in one or more of their locations. That number will rise to 42.0% in 2022. In-store robots among retailers with more than $10 million in annual revenues will see similar increases: 31.0% had robots in-store in 2020, and 36.5% will have them in 2022.

Dive deeper:

  • Robots help retail companies reduce their labor requirements while also performing tasks without needing to bring employees and customers into close proximity.
  • Robots in retail stores perform a range of functions, including cleaning, stocking, inventory monitoring and management, and product transport.
  • These systems are limited to larger retail operators with the capital and resources to invest in these projects, which have require high upfront investment to realize larger long-term gains.

Looking ahead: Penetration rate growth for robots in both warehouse and in-store roles increased significantly between 2019 and 2020 but will taper off some in years to come. By 2023 we project 44.5% of warehouse fulfillment operators measured will have robots deployed to locations, and 37.5% of retailers measured will have robots working in-store.