Bossa Nova Robotics, a company specializing in building robotic technology for retailers, has raised $14 million to expedite the rollout of its robots in stores.
Founded out of Pittsburgh, with offices in San Francisco as well, Bossa Nova has been developing its robot technology over the past few years, setting out to serve retailers through automation and analytics. Its machines analyze stock on shelves and collect data to optimize inventory, with fully autonomous robots unleashed in stores among shoppers. The company says it is now testing its “retail robots” with “five of the world’s leading retail chains,” though it wouldn’t divulge any names.
What we’re effectively talking about here is automating a task that would ordinarily be carried out by humans, with a view toward improving efficiency and productivity and cutting costs. According to an IHL study, “inventory distortion missed opportunities” amount to around $1.1 trillion annually. These errors include out-of-stock products, misplaced items, inaccurate inventory, and more. And this is the problem Bossa Nova is looking to fix, even if it means one more nail in the coffin for the human workforce — though in fairness, Bossa Nova’s robot actually works in tandem with managers and employees (for now). It’s a coworker that never needs a lunch break (though it will need to be charged).
“Inventory inaccuracy, empty shelves or misplaced items result in significant loss of revenue for retailers each year,” explains Martin Hitch, CEO of Bossa Nova Robotics. “Bossa Nova’s technology helps recapture those lost sales by collecting high-quality, time-sensitive data that provides detailed, accurate, and actionable information to help store staff improve retail shelf compliance.”
Just last month, Tokyo-based LifeRobotics, a startup behind a cooperative working robot, raised $4 million in funding to bring “Coro” to small manufacturing spaces. Internet giant Google has also invested in robotics, though it is reportedly in the process of offloading Boston Dynamics, a robotics company it acquired back in 2013.
Bossa Nova’s $14 million Series A round was led by WRV, with participation from private investors, and will be used to deploy its robots full-time in retail stores. “Bossa Nova addresses a multi-billion dollar opportunity within the retail marketplace, and is a technology that can be immediately deployed by major retail chains,” said WRV’s Nic Brathwaite. “The product has already proven successful in stores and integrates seamlessly with existing inventory management systems.”