ShopBots invade New Zealand: Is this the new way we buy stuff?

ShopBots invade New Zealand: Is this the new way we buy stuff?

Want to get the best deals at Noel Leeming's Massive Sellout but don't want to stand in line? Then use a ShopBot.

Noel Leeming’s Massive Sellout is back for another year and for those who aren't too keen on getting among the crowds, the retailer is offering a VIP experience with a robot to do the shopping for them.

The electronics retailer estimates 70,000 customers will attend the sale and to avoid the pushing and shoving, it's offering a VIP section, for customers to put their feet up and enjoy refreshments while their ShopBot battles the crowds on their behalf. Customers will be able to communicate with the ShopBot (a Noel Leeming staffer) via a headset and screens that show what products it's looking at. The ShopBot will also offer suggestions, tips and answer questions.

Once the shopping is completed, the ShopBot will return to the VIP area for the customer to complete the transaction at a ShopBot till – another opportunity to skip the lengthy queues.

The initiative was sparked by research Noel Leeming conducted last year, which found that on average one in five people who didn’t attend the event chose not to because of how busy it was. General manager of marketing Maryanne Smith said in the release, because the VIP experience won't be a busy place, she hopes it would encourage more people to come along.

“The idea behind the ShopBot and VIP area was to add value to customer’s Massive Sellout experience and give those customers who may find the crowds too much an alternate and fun way to shop.”

The VIP area will run during all four days of the Noel Leeming Massive Sellout and will be available to anyone that attends the sale and would like a little help with their shopping. The event will be held at Auckland's ASB Showgrounds from 29 September - 2 October.

While the ShopBot offers human assistance to those who want to avoid the crowds, what about something to control the crowds? For future Massive Sellouts, it may be worth Noel Leeming taking a look at the mall cop robot.

The 136kg robot is already in use at the Stanford Mall in California, and while it isn’t armed with a gun, it has 360-degree vision through high definition cameras. It also has two-way audio with public address, intercom and broadcast, licence plate recognition and people detection.

This story originally appeared onStopPress.