retail industry

Can’t find an item in a grocery? Meet Wi-Z

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Can’t find an item in a grocery? Meet Wi-Z

ROBOT. Robinsons Retail Holdings deploys Wi-Z, a robot that guides shoppers looking for items in Shopwise International Grocery in Gateway Mall 2, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, in last quarter of 2023.

Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) Robinsons Retail Holdings introduces Wi-Z, Robi, and Tim, robots that guide shoppers who can't find particular items in some of its Shopwise, Robinsons Supermarket, and The Marketplace groceries

MANILA, Philippines – It’s happened to everyone. You’re in a large grocery and you can’t find a particular item. If only there was an app similar to Waze that could help you find that item amid rows filled with thousands of goods. 

Well, there is now, but it’s not an app; it’s a robot. 

Meet Wi-Z. 

robot
SHOPPING ASSISTANT. Wi-Z guides shoppers who can’t find a particular item in Shopwise International Grocery Gateway Mall 2, in Araneta City, Cubao, Quezon City, Isagani de Castro, Jr. /Rappler

Robinsons Retail Holdings Incorporated (RRHI), owner of the Shopwise retail chain, has introduced a robot that helps people find items in its International Grocery Shopping branches, such as in Gateway Mall 2 in Cubao, Quezon City; Shopwise Chino Roces, Makati City; Shopwise Sucat, Parañaque; and in Shopwise Antipolo.

All you have to do is choose a category from the robot’s screen, tap it, and Wi-Z will lead you to the row where that item is. 

“Welcome. I can lead you to the place you want to go,” says Wi-Z. His screen says, “Where would you like to go?” and shows several categories such as Bath Accesories, Dishwashing Liquid, Imported Cereals, Insect Killer, Pet Foods, Dental Care, Home Appliance, Imported Soda, Kitchen Aid, and Pharmacy.  

Looking for toothpaste? Just press Dental Care and Wi-Z will lead you to the row which has all goods related to dental care. 

His screen will then say, “Leading to Dental Care.” 

Upon reaching the row, Wi-Z says, “The destination has been arrived. Looking forward to the next trip.” His screen says, “Arrived at Dental Care.” 

“I am going back,” Wi-Z says, and returns to his Guide Point or one of the entrances of Shopwise where the robot was programmed to return to. 

Wi-Z then says, “Arrived at Guide Point.” 

If people are blocking Wi-Z’s path, the robot then says: “I cannot move forward. Can you make way for me?” or “I am working now, kindly let me pass.” 

Wi-Z has three trays which can be filled with a few items that Shopwise can promote via the robot. 

Can’t find an item in a grocery? Meet Wi-Z

In November 2018, RRHI, owned by the Gokongwei family, acquired 100% of Rustan’s Supercenters Incorporated, which used to operate retail brands Shopwise, Rustan’s Supermarket, The Marketplace, and Wellcome.

Wi-Z appears to be part of the RRHI’s move to upgrade Shopwise’s image by making it more modern and global, amid stiff competition in the retail industry. RRHI has renovated and changed the look of Shopwise in its branches in Makati City; in Cubao, Quezon City; in Sucat, Parañaque; and in Antipolo City, Rizal.

Its Shopwise branch in Cubao moved to the new Gateway Mall 2 on July 28 this year from its large store behind Araneta Coliseum.

“Our newest store at Gateway Mall 2 embodies our commitment to excellence and customer-centricity as we bring international grocery shopping without the membership fee to more locations throughout the country,” Kerwin Legarde, general manager, said at the opening.

Shopwise Sucat branch was relaunched on November 17. Its Antipolo branch was also renovated this year. Shopwise Makati was relaunched in October 2022.

To support its international grocery branding for Shopwise, RRHI also launched Meadows, a brand in Singapore and Hong Kong which offers various food and other items, this month of December. 

Among the Meadows products being offered in Shopwise International Grocery Shopping are potato chips, tortilla chips, crackers, nuts, pet food, and others. 

Meet Robi

Anthony Paul Pasia, Robinsons Retail Holdings’ director for IT Delivery and Retailer Services Robinsons, told Rappler they also have a red version of the robot named Robi and a white version called Tim. 

RED. Shopping guide Robi is present in at least seven Robinsons Supermarkets in Metro Manila. Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. handout

These robots have been deployed to assist shoppers in the following stores:

  • Robinsons Supermarket Galleria Quezon City
  • Robinsons Supermarket Ermita
  • Robinsons Supermarket Eastwood Technoplaza II
  • Robinsons Supermarket Magnolia
  • Robinsons Supermarket Novaliches
  • Robinsons Supermarket Antipolo
  • Robinsons Supermarket Montalban Towncenter
  • The Marketplace Venice Grand McKinley
  • The Maretplace Powerplant Mall Rockwell
  • The Marketplace Makati
  • The Marketplace EDSA Shangri-la

Pasia said the first robot was deployed in The Marketplace Shangri-la last July 2023, and that all participating stores have two robots each. – Rappler.com 

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.