The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation. Activity driven by a number of factors including supply chain optimisation, and the growing importance of technologies such as automated inventory management, robotic order fulfilment, and robotic warehouse management. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics: Automated inventory management. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 128,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the retail industry, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Automated inventory management is a key innovation area in robotics

Automated inventory management allows the tracking of every process from vendor and product information to product quantity, inventory movements, and sales data. Automating the inventory management system can have an end-to-end streamlining impact on several areas of a business. Robotic process automation can help in bringing modernisation in many areas such as forecasting and ordering, manufacturing coordination, and inventory control and tracking.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated inventory management.

Key players in automated inventory management – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to automated inventory management

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Shandong Heavy Industry Group 40 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 40 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 31 Unlock Company Profile
Locus Robotics 25 Unlock Company Profile
Ocado Group 23 Unlock Company Profile
Sycamore Partners 15 Unlock Company Profile
Walgreens Boots Alliance 15 Unlock Company Profile 14 Unlock Company Profile
Coupang 13 Unlock Company Profile
Invia Robotics 12 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Konecranes 11 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Geekplus Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile
Cleveron 8 Unlock Company Profile
GreyOrange 8 Unlock Company Profile
Carefusion Germany 326 8 Unlock Company Profile
EXOTEC Solutions 7 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 7 Unlock Company Profile
Zumtobel Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Becton Dickinson and 6 Unlock Company Profile
Swyft 5 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 5 Unlock Company Profile
Murata Machinery 5 Unlock Company Profile
Myrmex 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading companies in terms of patents filed in the automated inventory management space are Shandong Heavy Industry Group, NEC, Walmart, and Locus Robotics, the market leader in autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfilment warehouses, which crossed the one billion units picked milestone in September 2022.

In terms of application diversity, Zumtobel Group, Panasonic, Invia Robotics and Swyft are the leading players.

In terms of geographic reach, Exotec Solutions, Coupang, Locus Robotics and Cleveron are the top players.

Retailers across geographies are adopting automated inventory management to save time, obtain real-time data, and ensure improved efficiency and effective remote management.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Retail.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.