ROMS Raises 1.2 Billion Yen to Accelerate NFC Deployment
Tokyo, Japan – ROMS, Inc. (Tokyo, CEO: Yosuke Maeno), a robotics and automation solution provider for retail stores and logistics centers, is pleased to announce today it has raised a total of 1.2 billion yen led by existing investor DNX Ventures.
The funding will be used to accelerate the deployment of its nano-fulfillment centers (NFCs) and robotics convenience stores (RFCs), enabling retail clients to automate their supply chains and create the shopping experience of the future.
Enabling the Next-Generation Shopping Experience
ROMS was founded in 2019 to “create next-gen retail CX by digital & automation.” It develops and provides NFCs, which are automated warehouses that can be built into / adjacent to stores for next-generation online supermarkets, and RCSs which are staff-less nano stores.
Both offerings are based on robotic picking and automated warehouse technology, designed to pick customer orders robotically and prepare the goods for collection by store staff or the customer. The robots can operate autonomously 24/7 and are capable of picking a wide variety of objects. Goods in the automated warehouse can also be ordered on-site via a touch panel, allowing the system to be deployed not only as fulfillment centers but as staff-less stores.
ROMS provides the complete NFC/RCS technology suite as a vertically integrated solution, complete with hardware (kiosk devices, picking robots, automated warehouse etc.), middleware, software, and e-commerce solutions (apps).
Having completed a PoC with a model RCS in Tokyo, ROMS installed an RCS in “au Style SHIBUYA MODI” for the major Japanese telecommunication company KDDI Corporation in September 2022 as a quick commerce initiative. The RCS autonomously picks customer orders for the food delivery platform “menu,” which will then be collected and delivered to the customer by menu’s delivery crew.
Several retailers are also planning to implement NFCs in the coming months.
Innovating Retail to Overcome Labor Challenges
While the pandemic pushed e-commerce up to over 10% of all grocery sales in America, Europe, and China, in Japan the figure still stands at 3%. This is lower than the average e-commerce share of all retail categories in Japan, which is 8%. With less demand, Japanese supermarkets are still picking e-commerce orders by hand, resulting in high labor costs, placing limitations on the number of orders they can accept. On the other hand, in America and Europe, micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) are being deployed to reduce labor costs and fulfill more orders.
In-store sales must also face the looming challenge of population decline, which is expected to cause staffing shortages and an increase in labor costs.
ROMS solutions can help retailers adapt to this new business environment. NFCs and RCSs are smaller and are more flexible than existing MFC solutions, and can be deployed easily in retail outlets with less space.
Scaling Up the Company, Improving and Upgrading the Models
The funding raised in this round will be used to scale up the organization by hiring more hardware and software engineers, business development and corporate staff. ROMS also plans to invest in improving existing models as well as developing next generation models, to accelerate the creation of a next-generation shopping experience with automation technology.