Pepper the robot to offer tailored services in Japanese retail shops


Pepper the humanoid robot will start offering tailored customer services in retail shops by using online data analysis.

SoftBank Robotics Corp., which developed Pepper, will start selling the next-generation services this fall with Microsoft Japan Co. as part of their collaboration in cloud robotics, the companies said Tuesday. They did not announce the price.

Connected to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, Pepper will cater to the needs of individual customers and recommend products based on analysis of data online, such as customer behavior and sales.

Electronic devices, including Microsoft’s Surface Hub and Surface tablet, will also be used to enable customers to see information on their screens and purchase items.

SoftBank Robotics President Fumihide Tomizawa expressed hope that the new service will help alleviate labor shortages in the retail industry and the increase in foreign visitors to Japan.

“We hope it will provide one future format for the retailing industry,” Tomizawa said.

SoftBank Robotics and Microsoft said they plan to enable Pepper to serve customers in foreign languages but did not give further details.