Imagine you’re a new mother driving home in the rain with your sleeping child in the backseat and you need to stop for a gallon of milk. You find a parking spot, get the umbrella, wake the baby, run inside, walk to the back corner of the store, grab the milk, stand in line...20 minutes later, you and your child are wet, irritated, and you have a gallon of milk to show for it. In 1986, CEO Mike Rivalto’s wife came home irritated after having a similar experience. Mike thought, there must be a better way to shop.
After seven years of research and development, his automated retail concept was ready to become a reality when technology caught up to the idea in the mid-1990s. Advancements in video conferencing and surveillance made production possible for the first ever fully automated store. The first Proof of Concept (POC) Smartmart opened for business in 2003.
This POC store, located in Memphis, TN (5133 Park Avenue), did more than 1.4 million transactions in eight years before it was replaced in 2011 by Smartmart’s latest technology with all USA-made parts. Today’s Smartmart units focus on custom designs that grant flexibility with products and placement - with each store tailored to a retailer's sales goals.
Mike Rivalto is on a constant pursuit of making life easier for the consumer. You will often hear him say "What they shoulda done here..." followed by an innovative new way to do just about anything. It is this attitude that keeps Smartmart Inc. propelling forward. As retail evolves, so does our technology. Our newest project, the TILI (Take It or Leave It) machine, is on the forefront of e-commerce. Stay tuned to see what we do next!