Walmart Wants Robots to Grocery Shop for You

Written By David Roberts

Posted August 8, 2018

Life is about to get so much easier for Walmart customers…

The retail giant just announced that it recently partnered with Massachusetts-based Alert Innovation. The goal of this partnership is to have robots pick out online Walmart grocery pickup orders rather than people.

That might not seem like much, but it’ll give the company the opportunity to put its manpower toward something that it needs or would benefit the company…

Will Robots Be in Walmart’s Future?

Alert Innovation will be creating a customized version of its Alphabot product-picking robots. They will serve as automated assistants in the form of small food-picking shuttle robots. And they will roam a 20,000-square-foot warehouse attached to Walmart’s Salem, New Hampshire, superstore.

Walmart sees this technology as a way to increase the speed of when a customer’s order can be picked up. This will allow for more orders, and it’ll give a better customer experience. Customers will be able to pick up their orders within a specific time frame.

Walmart explained the process:

Our personal shoppers will then pick, assemble and deliver orders to customers. The vast majority of grocery products we offer in-store will be fulfilled through this system, though our personal shoppers will still handpick produce and other fresh items.

Walmart assures that nothing will change about the way its consumers pick up their orders. Their experiences will instead be enhanced. Consumers will still get the best quality of products. A robot will just be picking out, assembling, and delivering the orders…

Change Is on the Way for Walmart

Alphabot is expected to go live near the end of the year, starting October 1st. As of right now, this will be a pilot program. Walmart wants to see how, and if, this technology will work and have a seamless transition into its stores. There’s no guarantee that this will work or that it’ll be a program Walmart will want to continue.

But if all goes well, this would be great news for Walmart. Of Walmart’s stores, 1,200 of them offer grocery pickup service. This is double the number of stores that were available two years ago.

Using robots as product fulfillment isn’t a new concept for other retail stores. Amazon has been using robots alongside humans in its fulfillment centers for a few years. And we know it’s working for Amazon.

Amazon ships 608 million packages a year, which comes to an estimated 1.6 million packages a day. The company needs all the help it can get. And having robots fulfilling orders to be shipped helps the company in getting out all those orders and in staying committed to its promise of two-day shipping to its Prime members.

Over the past year or so, Walmart has been focused on growing its business. Despite its already huge presence in the market, the company doesn’t want to sit back and let Amazon take a chunk of its market share.

Walmart wants to be on top again. It’s been trying to transform its business into being more reliable, efficient, and desirable to consumers. And one way to do that is to put new technology into place that will allow customers to depend on Walmart for their consumer needs.

According to Statista, robotics working in logistics, packaging, and materials will reach $31 billion in the U.S. by 2020.

The shift toward using robotics to speed up otherwise time-consuming tasks will help companies become more productive. And it will ultimately, and hopefully, increase their revenues.

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be two sectors and technologies that will launch our society into efficiency and accuracy. Walmart will need to be serious about these changes to “re-brand” itself in order to compete with the giant that is Amazon.

Until next time,

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today