Alibaba Integrates Robots Into The Restaurant

Alibaba Integrates Robots Into The Restaurant

August 2, 2018

Alibaba is experimenting with robots and software applications to streamline the restaurant ordering and wait staff service processes.

Customers check in at a kiosk and are provided a QR code to track their order through the system.  They walk around the market and choose fresh foods, then the food is robotically delivered to refrigerated storage until the customer is seated. Humans still prepare the meal, but instead of handing it off to a waiter, the meal is placed in a “pod” and delivered via conveyor belt to the customer’s table.


Video spotlight: Hema’s New ‘Robotic Restaurant’


This post is based on the Business Insider article, Robots are replacing waiters and delivering fresh seafood right to people’s tables at Alibaba’s high-tech restaurant in Shanghai, by Prachi Bhardwaj, July 2, 2018, and the YouTube video, Hema’s New ‘Robotic Restaurant’, by Alibaba Group, June 26, 2018. Image sources: Corbis/Superstock and Shutterstock / GreenLandStudio.

Discussion Questions:

1. Would the service delivery model Alibaba is pioneering, with advanced robots and conveyor-belt delivery, be acceptable to domestic customers at a fast food restaurant? What about a fine dining restaurant?

Guidance: Students should review the concepts of servicescape, service delivery, and service Continue reading

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It’s Not Delivery, It’s Driverless Delivery

It’s Not Delivery, It’s Driverless Delivery

Ford is developing a program with Postmates to offer food delivery using self-driving cars.

Ford made waves in February 2018 with news of its self-driving service in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Inside the self-driving cars are lockers of different sizes to accommodate food and/or other products to be delivered to customers on the same route.  Customers will receive a text with an access code to retrieve their order from a designated locker when the delivery arrives.  The program is set to be operational in 2021.

This post is based on the Fortune.com article, Ford Is Working on a Self-Driving Delivery Service with Postmates, by Erin Corbett, June 1, 2018; and the YouTube video Miami: The First Proving Ground for Ford’s Self-Driving Service, February 27, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Scharfsinn.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the implications of Ford’s investment in self-driving cars for food delivery from an operations management perspective?

Guidance: This question could be moved in multiple directions, from using the move to position itself as an industry leader in innovative design and production of self-driving cars, to expanding the demand for self-driving cars and applications for driverless vehicles, to increasing its competitiveness Continue reading

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Cashier-Free Walmarts?

Cashier-Free Walmarts?

Microsoft is talking to Walmart about launching check-out free stores with technology developed by the software giant. Shopping carts would be equipped with cameras to track and charge items that shoppers drop into the cart, eliminating the check-out process.

This post is based on TheVerge.com post, Microsoft reportedly working on rival Amazon Go tech for cashier-free stores, by Tom Warren, June 14, 2018. Image source: Purestock/SuperStock.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the strategic implications of a check-out free store for Walmart?

Guidance: Some implications of offering check-out free shopping affect both quality and time strategies for Walmart.  Shoppers’ experiences are improved as they do not need to wait in line for check out.  Check-out issues such as scanning errors or omission are also minimized

2. What is a key consideration in designing a check-out free service?

Guidance:  There are many. One obvious consideration is research and development. Microsoft is experimenting with cameras attached to shopping carts to track items and charge them to the shopper’s account through its cloud service. Privacy and data security are other considerations.

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