A fully automated pet food store is designed to help retailers lower

personnel costs to better compete with e-commerce.

In August, an Israeli pet food and pet supplies retailer, NowPet, launched TelAviv’s first unmanned pet supplies store. This was done in collaboration withCyb-Org Auto Shop Ltd., an Israeli technology-intensive retail and wholesalemanagement company, established in 2016.

The first store, in the Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv, operates usingCyb-Org’s systems in a 40-square-meter space, with 60 different productsavailable. It provides major pet food brands, such as Acana and Whiskas(currently in dry form only), with other products, such as leashes and toys,to join soon.

Automation could help pet food retailers compete

Operating against stiff competition from e-commerce giants like Amazon, retailoutlets have been struggling to lower costs and offset thinning profitmargins. Although automation technologies have been around for many years,Cyb-Org CEO Erez Gur believes automation has been too complicated to maintainand only moves the cost burden from one category to another.

“Retailers looking to get into automation as a means to reduce costs mightfire four cashiers, but now they have to have eight security guards, and inthe back office, there might be more persons who are looking at cameras andfixing algorithms,” Gur explains. “In our solution, there really is zeromanpower involved.”

Gur is a pet food retailer himself as the founder of Petbuy, a pet food chainin Israel. He cites his own struggles with the changing pet food marketdynamics as the reason to develop Cyb-Org, alongside his company’s ChiefScientist, Ofer Levi. Gur has sold most of his shares in Petbuy since managingCyb-Org.

Pet owner experience and cost were important factors

“The main issue has been that developers usually do not come from retailfields,” Gur points out. “As a very experienced retailer, I know all thechallenges that retailers deal with, which is why I developed this solution.”

The system is designed to identify customers through fingerprinting and facialrecognition. When a product is removed from a smart shelf, built-in weighingscales and machine vision calculate the item removed and add it to thecustomers’ bills. This is the strength of Cyb-Org’s proprietary hardware andsoftware that can save retailers more money compared to other such brands, Gurclaims.

“NowPet is a chain, and they wanted our solution,” Gur elaborates. “They wereour first clients, because among pet retailers the cost of workers in veryhigh. You have to have a seller, a buyer and a delivery person, which getsvery expensive. In our pet stores, we undertake automated inventory analysis,manage logistics to lower expenses and let the customer enjoy a retailexperience that is cost-effective and hassle-free.”

More unmanned pet supplies stores expected soon

Gur’s retail technology solutions have found a foothold in the Israeli petfood and supplies market, with NowPet looking to invest in an additional 20stores and, eventually, have 100 such stores across Israel. These stores willbe able to feature up to 300 different pet food products.

The solution is also flexible and adaptable to other retail outlets. CurrentlyCyb-Org is in the process of producing outlet sizes reaching up to 200 squaremeters, with up to 800 different products available in a single location.Specifically, Cyb-Org has also received orders from farming and sports goodsretailers as well, with production of their retail spaces taking place inShenzhen, China.

Image: Cyb-Org is establishing automated retail locations throughout theworld, with plans to expand further into pet supplies in Israel. l Courtesy ofCyb-Org

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