Kmart Australia: Shoppers spot new stock-counting robots called Tory amid fears they will take jobs
Kmart shoppers have noticed a ‘futuristic’ change being rolled out to stores across Australia.
Customers have seen inventory-counting robots called Tory, which is short for “inventory,” roaming the aisles of the Kmart.
Tories have been introduced to Kmart stores to count inventory so that the major retailer has a more accurate idea of product availability.
Customers are sharing sightings of their local Tories as more robots are put to work at Kmart locations.
While many find the robots amusing, others have expressed concern that they could take away jobs, but Kmart claims the opposite is true.
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Customers have spotted robots called Tory roaming the aisles of the Kmart used to count inventory so the major retailer has a more accurate idea of product availability
A customer known as Spanian online shared his interaction with one of the robots after being amazed to see one driving through the store.
“I’m packed in Kmart and being chased by the robot…What’s going on?” he laughed in a TikTok clip.
The stunned customer asked an off-camera employee what the robot was doing, to which she told him it was “counting inventory.”
“It goes around checking sizes to see what’s in stock, it goes from aisle to aisle,” the man repeated.
A Kmart spokesperson revealed to FEMAIL that the robot will “help more customers get the inventory they want” when they want it.
“Tory uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to count our clothing inventory every day by scanning RFID tags on our products – creating a better experience for our customers by providing up-to-date product availability,” they explained.
“Having an accurate overview of inventory means we can help more customers get the products they want, when they want it, through whatever channel they shop with us.”
They added that Tory usually works nights, helping staff focus on serving customers and then helping them find the products they want.
“For Kmart, this new technology meant that where previously we would do an inventory once a year, Tory can do it once a day,” they said.
Spanian’s clip has been viewed more than 190,000 times and users were quick to share their thoughts.
“I bet they can’t tell you when the next batch of Hot Wheels hits the shelves,” one viewer quipped.
Customers have shared observations of Tory’s as more Kmart stores are put to work. Many find the robots amusing, but others have expressed concern that they could take away jobs
“At my Kmart you can talk to it and ask where things are,” added a second.
Others explained what the robot’s function was, with one saying that they will “phasing out manual scanning/stock recognition/logging.”
“Can take much faster and more accurate shots off the shelf,” they added.
“It checks inventory, man, so it doesn’t run out of stock,” another affirmed.
But not everyone was amused and complained that the robots could take jobs.
That’s one job away. It’s all fun until these things take over jobs. AI is coming soon,” one man wrote.
“Goodbye people’s jobs,” another agreed.
The Kmart spokesperson said Tory will not replace jobs at the store.
“It’s actually the exact opposite: we’ve never had more team members and our 44,000-strong team just keeps growing. Tory is not replacing existing jobs as Tory only has one function: the ability to scan our tags and count inventory,” they said.
“This gives our team members more time to focus on our customers and help them get their hands on the products they want by having more readily available inventory information.”
Videos of the Tories started circulating on social media last year when they were first introduced in stores.
Some robots have a sign explaining the name and job and asking customers not to worry about getting in the way.
“Don’t mind, I’m just counting the stock on our shelves. You don’t have to get out of the way, I’ll go around you,” the sign reads.
The robots have been active in select stores and “waiting in the wings” at many more.
Some robots have a sign explaining the name and job and asking customers not to worry about getting in the way
“We have one in the back of our store — waiting to be set up,” said a Kmart employee.
Some staff members were shocked to see the robot in action during the day.
“Wait yours goes around while customers are in the store?” We put ours close by,’ said one woman.
Others revealed that they had problems with their robots.
“We got one and it died in less than a week,” said one worker.
“Ours broke too,” laughed another.
“Ours doesn’t work either, no one has talked about that in months,” said another.
RFID technology allows Tory to count and map inventory that is out of place on the shelf.