Drones Help Power New Retail Inventory Tool

Pensa Systems has unveiled its new “retail inventory visibility system”: an approach that uses computer vision to “see,” artificial intelligence to learn, analyze and conclude, and autonomous drones as roving eyes to automate visual tasks.

In short, the system is designed to inform retailers and
brands of what is actually on shelves – across all stores, everywhere, at any
point in time.

“You can’t sell what you don’t have on the shelf. In-store
inventory visibility remains a giant black hole for the retail supply chain,”
says Richard Schwartz, president and CEO of Pensa Systems. “Retailers and brand
manufacturers have tried all combinations of robots, cameras and smart
shelving, but these solutions are too expensive, inaccurate and brittle. Pensa
addresses this problem differently. By combining AI smarts in the cloud with
inexpensive drones for remote data collection, we have created a scalable
solution that can break the logjam.”

Pensa recently completed a successful pilot of its new
inventory visibility system with global beverage company Anheuser-Busch InBev
in the heavily trafficked store of retail partner IGA Extra Beck in Montreal,
Canada. With less than 90 minutes of setup time, Pensa’s drone-based system
collected hourly and daily data on out-of-stocks and real share-of-shelf within
the beer section.

Over a period of two weeks, Pensa’s system scanned dry
shelves and coolers with multiple product types (i.e., cans, bottles, packs),
capturing 15.9 million SKU images during 200 flights (totaling 2 miles of
travel), with its continuously learning accuracy already reaching 98% for
out-of-stock detection.

“Any solution that can help us maintain store integrity and
ensure we don’t have out-of-stocks provides the competitive advantage we need,”
says Todd Beck, owner of IGA Extra Beck. “The ability to learn about a potential
out-of-stock situation hours ahead of when our manual systems might notify us
represents an opportunity to drive incremental sales and make customers happier
in the process. The immediate feedback we can get from the Pensa system can
offer tremendous value to our business.”

Pensa Systems recently raised $5 million in new funding to
accelerate the deployment of its system. The company has now raised a total of
$7.2 million. The new round was led by Signia Venture Partners, with
participation from new investor Commerce Ventures, as well as existing
investors ZX Ventures, ATX Seed Ventures, Capital Factory, Revtech Ventures and
others.

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