The robots are coming to London Selfridges

Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street is currently hosting a robot, which can serve coffee to visiting customers.

The robotic barista installation is located within the Smartech concession at the 109-year-old department store, and is helping to promote the technology retail company’s extended footprint at the central London location.

Smartech is increasing its current space from 45 sq m to 100 sq m and has brought in the YuMi robot, which is manufactured by robotics specialist ABB, as a way of showcasing its focus on innovation and new tech products.

It is the latest in a long list of experiences offered by Smartech, which aims to provide opportunities for customers to trial a range of new tech in its stores. In the past, the retailer has offered customer virtual reality headsets to test out products like electric wake boards and flying suits from the comfort of the store environment.

A key aim for Smartech when it launched in 2016 was to create a destination store for the latest innovations consumers may read about but then find difficult to get their hands on. Brands including Snap Inc, Ring, Smart Nora and Nuraphone have all chosen Smartech as a UK retail partner.

Smartech started as a 7 sq m Selfridges’ concession in 2016 and expanded in 2017, before increasing in size again this week.


ABB’s technology is creeping into retail in various forms. For example, its robotic systems were a feature of Coop Italia’s grocery store of the future concept at Expo in Milan, which Essential Retail visited in 2015.

That particular deployment had ABB’s robotic arm picking up and presenting fruit and other produce, as a way of highlighting how man and machine can work together to provide a compelling retail store experience in the future. There are multiple ways this type of technology could be used in a retailer’s operations, from the shopfloor to the warehouse, and it appears several businesses operating in the sector are in experimentation phase with it.

ABB’s innovations were also included in last year’s Robots exhibition at London’s Science Museum exhibition, which explored the 500-year story of humanoid robots and their relationship with humans.