Walmart Let’s Go of Inventory Robots From Its Stores
Walmart has scrapped plans to utilize robots to monitor its inventory. The retail giant said that it has officially concluded its partnership with Bossa Nova Robotics, the company that created their roving robots.
Missing inventory is a common issue for retailers, since sales can be affected if customers can’t find items on store shelves. The roving machines scan shelves to make sure that prices are accurate, and all products are in stock. With the help of technology, bricks-and-mortar shops can compete well with online retailers such as Alibaba and Amazon.
Walmart stores have been using these machines since 2017, as the company progresses towards more automation. Up to this day, they use autonomous floor scrubbers and other types of robots. Automation is an idea that they tried in around 500 stores, and they are implementing other initiatives in more branches, Walmart said in an official statement.
Just last quarter, the company declared a huge $137.7bn (£107bn) revenue, fueled higher by a 97% sudden increase across its digital platforms during coronavirus restrictions. Due to tight competition, other retailers have taken various approaches to automation.
Alibaba and Amazon have tried to increase efficiency by using machines at their warehouses. Back in 2012, Amazon purchased a robotics firm to improve efficiency and productivity in its fulfillment centers. Now, it uses over 200,000 robots.
Target, on the other hand, has been more reluctant to make use of robots, preferring their people to interact with their customers. For now, it doesn’t make sense for Target to shift to a heavily automated workforce. Why? It has around 1,800 branches, and 80% of those stores are just 170,000 square feet.
Automation Is Transforming Retail
In early 2020, Walmart first unveiled the Alphabot robotic system. This is an automated system set to revolutionize store order fulfillment by enabling more efficient, quicker order selection. Alphabot delivers the items to specific workstations, where employees check shopping bags and deliver final orders.
As more and more people continue to prefer eCommerce options, online grocery orders are expected to continue growing. It’s part of the new reality of social distancing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Alphabot and other automated technologies can help meet the demands of customers.
With the continued increase in technology in grocery stores, huge questions remain retail companies and their employees. Will most of the workers lose their jobs? How will they adapt? Are machines eventually going to replace thousands of stockers and cashiers? As automation grows, companies need to figure out how they can best support their human associates.
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