Robots, more specifically distribution center robotics and automation have become the major competitive weapon in the escalating battle for retail customers.
It's stacking up to be a fight to the death with traditional brick and mortar chains struggling to catch up with online giants like Amazon. The big challenge may turn out to be that they are playing a catch-up game, one where Amazon has already paid it's dues and accumulated years, if not decades of know-how and experience.
"Walgreen Co. and Toys “R” Us Inc. are among the chains rushing to open distribution centers, revamp websites and integrate their stores more seamlessly into their online operations. Amazon, meanwhile, plans to open 15 distribution centers this year. “Many brick-and-mortar retailers have had their ‘a-ha' moment as Amazon continues to grow and the Internet is getting more viable,” said Mick Mountz, chief executive officer of Kiva Systems Inc., which has seen orders surge this year for the warehouse robots it sells to retailers. Last month Toys ‘R' Us opened a warehouse near Reno, Nevada, equipped with the Roomba- like critters, which shorten order turn-around time."
Toys ‘R' Us Deploys Robots as Retailers Seek to Catch Amazon - BusinessWeek