We could be headed for a period in the future where robots take care of all our grocery needs for us. However, for some Walmart customers, that period may already be here.
The biggest retailer in the world, Walmart (WMT); has announced that it is testing a new robotics technology. The tech will aid grocery shopping and help fulfill customer online grocery orders faster.
Walmart has partnered with Startup Company based in Massachusetts, Alert Innovation; to install and set up its unique Alphabot technology in its superstore in Salem, New Hampshire.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance, CEO of Alert Innovation, John Lert said:
“This is about the evolution of retail. So, we believe that this really marks the dawn of a new era and in which robots are going to increasingly pick orders for customers and relieve them of that burden.”
Walmart’s Popular Grocery Pickup Service Will Get Even Better
Alphabot will help to speed up the fulfillment of customer online grocery orders by automating certain steps in the process.
The technology uses automated carts to pick grocery items from storage containers, gather them together and then transport to store’s staff. Staff then arrange and assemble them for pick-up and delivery.
What’s even more interesting is that customers won’t have to see what’s going on as everything will be processed behind the scenes.
The grocery-shopping robots will reduce the trouble customers and staffs experience. It is designed to help associates process orders more conveniently. Instead of going through the stress of walking across the aisles looking for grocery items.
It also gives them more time to focus on carefully handpicking meat and fresh items; while leaving the difficult tasks for the robots. For Walmart customers, it reduces shopping time and item prices.
In the last decade or so, Walmart has been making big strides in the online grocery pickup market. This service is currently available in about 1,800 stores, with plans to add up to 200 more before the end of 2018.
When is this launching?
The launch for the online grocery pickup service is scheduled for October 1st in the Salem superstore; then the first-ever Alphabot technology at a later date in the year.
The major challenge in the retail world is facing is how to seamlessly merge brick-and-mortar retail with e-commerce shopping. Well known by customers for its low prices on goods, Walmart pays store associates to pick and assemble orders that are placed online.
Alphabot helps to make the process a lot faster, increase efficiency and reduce costs. It also improves the job of the staffs as it helps them focus more on providing quality service.
Alphabot however, is new and still in its developmental stages. The Salem store is currently undergoing a 20,000 square foot extension which would house Alphabot.
The impressive computer simulation results indicated that about 95 percent of online orders can be picked up in as little as eight minutes, giving average pick times to be somewhere around three to four minutes.
Walmart’s Quest To Improve Customer and Associates’ Experience
Walmart isn’t planning to stop with Alphabot; the remodeled superstore in Salem will house several other one-of-a-kind technologies.
It will feature the company’s Pickup Tower for Walmart.com orders and the Bossa Nova which is an automated shelf-scanner that detects items that are out of stock.
Walmart’s online grocery service has already gained a huge customer base and with the company’s recent technology investments, it will surely continue to grow and expand.