The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by e-commerce, supply chain management and risk mitigation, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and virtual reality and augmented reality. In the last three years alone, there have been over 59,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in retail: robotic warehouse management. Buy the report here.

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Data Insights Robotics in Retail: Robotic warehouse mgmt

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 126,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the retail industry, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Robotic warehouse management is a key innovation area in robotics

Robotic warehouse management is the use of robotics and AI technology to optimize and automate warehouse processes such as locating, storing, and transporting goods. The technology can help retailers to increase throughput rates, improve efficiency, reduce errors, and cut down warehouse operating costs.

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 45 companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of robotic warehouse management.

Key players in robotic warehouse management – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to robotic warehouse management

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Nuro 131 Unlock Company Profile
Cox Enterprises 126 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 116 Unlock Company Profile
FedEx 53 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 35 Unlock Company Profile
Locus Robotics 17 Unlock Company Profile
Zume 16 Unlock Company Profile
Ocado Group 16 Unlock Company Profile
Indigo Agriculture 15 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 10 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 9 Unlock Company Profile
LG 9 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 9 Unlock Company Profile
FedEx Services 7 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 7 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 6 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ninebot Beijing Tech 6 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 5 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 5 Unlock Company Profile
DOT 4 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 4 Unlock Company Profile
Farfetch 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hancom 4 Unlock Company Profile
OPTIMUM 3 Unlock Company Profile
Diebold Nixdorf 3 Unlock Company Profile
Lyft 3 Unlock Company Profile
Infobank 2 Unlock Company Profile
Global Mobility Service 2 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 1 Unlock Company Profile
SITA 1 Unlock Company Profile
Saenu 1 Unlock Company Profile 1 Unlock Company Profile
AT&T 1 Unlock Company Profile
Wells Fargo 1 Unlock Company Profile
Zume Pizza 1 Unlock Company Profile
INRIX 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sycamore Partners 1 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Boshoku 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading players in the Roboticwarehouse management space in terms of patents filed are Nuro, Cox Enterprises, Walmart, FedEx and Toyota Motor.

In May 2023, FedEx ramped up its usage of robotic arms to sort packages at the company’s Memphis World Hub in Tennessee, US. The company added 12 additional parcel-sorting robotic arms, bringing the total to 16 robotic arms used at its express sorting facility. The arms are designed to pick and transfer packages from the collection bin to a conveyor belt for them to be scanned and entered into the FedEx system.

Cox Enterprises, Walmart, and Nuro are the top companies in this space in terms of application diversity.

The leading companies in terms of geographic reach are Nuro, FedEx and Cox Enterprises.

The usage of robotic inventory management systems allows companies to use their skilled labor on more productive tasks, releasing them from repetitive and redundant operations. However, human intervention is still required to ensure that the robotic machinery is functioning as intended and troubleshoot when necessary, significantly improving overall efficiencies.

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

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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.