In just the past year, Macy’s announced layoffs and store closings, Sears closed more than 150 stores and mall sales this holiday were on the decline. That’s about to change, as humanoid robots enter the retail space to increase in-store brand engagement.

The robotics of retail

Robots like Pepper, a humanoid robot developed by SoftBank Robotics, are starting to change the shopping experience. Pepper is currently working throughout Japan and Europe in sectors including hospitality, automotive, travel and health care. This year, U.S. consumers will have the chance to meet Pepper in retail and hospitality settings.

 “Pepper is designed to engage with people,” said Steve Carlin, the vice president and general manager of SoftBank Robotics America. “Every aspect of the robot, from its height —- tall enough to be noticeable, but not intimidating —- to its gestures as it communicates, is crafted to make Pepper more relatable and approachable.”

Robots like Pepper enable sales associates to have more nuanced interactions with customers…

Retail and beyond

Robots have vital uses for stores of any size: as general information sources, as greeters, even as an internet-connected point-of-sale. Complementing human colleagues, robots like Pepper enable sales associates to have more nuanced interactions with customers, as Pepper supports with immediate access to product and inventory details.

Beyond retail, humanoid robots are ideal for other consumer- facing industries. Serving as concierge in hospitality environments or, reassuring patients in a doctor’s office, - these examples only touch the surface of humanoid robots’ capabilities in a consumer setting.

One thing is certain: we’ll all have the chance to experience this futuristic technology in more of the retail stores we visit — and soon. The future, as they say, is here.