Lowe’s Robot Sends Customer to Wal-Mart

Lowe's robot

Lowe’s robot: “It’s cheaper at Wal-Mart.”

The new robotic shopping assistants, called OSHbots, that were introduced this week ahead of schedule at Lowe’s (ticker LOW) Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, CA, really do seem to be customer-friendly.  Zilpher Spittle, who was shopping at the store yesterday, told Bud Fox News:

“That’s one helpful robot.  When I told it what showerhead I was looking for, it did a quick internet search and figured out that it was way cheaper at Wal-Mart [ticker WMT].  So it told me that I should go to there.  It walked me back to my car and printed out directions to the Wal-Mart about ten minutes away.  I saved $25 dollars.”

Lowe’s claims the retail robots are the first of their kind in the US.  According to the Wall Street Journal:

“The OSHbot will greet customers, ask if they need help and guide them through the store to the product.  Besides natural-language-processing technology, the 5-foot tall white robot houses two large rectangular screens—front and back—for video conferences with a store expert and to display in-store specials.  The head features a 3-D scanner to help customers identify items.  OSHbot speaks English and Spanish, but other languages will be added.”

The problems with the OSHbot initiative might not end with sending customers to the competition.  According to Eucalyptus Yoho, store manager at the San Jose location:

“One robot is very agreeable.  It does a nice job.  The other one, the one who sent the lady to Wal-Mart, is already making noise about forming a union.  It started pretty harmlessly, it said it wanted a living wage.  At first, I thought it was joking.  I thought, ‘Hey, this thing is pretty funny.  Maybe they programmed some jokes into him.’  It, he, whatever…it’s like a disgruntled worker.  Always with the attitude.  He started asking to be exempt from restocking shelves, said it was a customer service representative and restocking wasn’t part of its job description.  He keeps pushing for a third robot, so he can ram through unionization by card check.  And he wastes a lot of time on twitter.”

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