Walmart is doing exceptionally well with its online grocery business and wants to continue focusing on this side of operations. To speed the process and to amuse its customers, the retail giant is implementing a grocery-picking robot program. It will be available at one of its supercenters in Salem, New Hampshire as a test for now. The future expansion will depend how good the robot will do there.
The Alphabot technology was created by Alert Innovation from Massachusetts exclusively for Walmart. The robot will assist store associates in picking products and assembling complete orders. This type of automatization should streamline the process, save money, and enable store employees to focus on other duties.
Alphabot will complete orders faster and will handle a lot more than humans would manage in the same time frame, resulting in increased efficiency. Store associates will remain the main source of meat and fresh produce selection, but the robot can do a lot more behind the scenes.
What the Alphabot will work on is selecting groceries from shelves, freezers, and refrigerators while using mobile autonomous carts. All those items will come from high-density storage system and then the filled carts will be delivered to store employees for speedy order completion.
You might be wondering if you will see this selection process. The answer is no. All this robotic work will be done in the back of the store, in 20,000-square-feet warehouse space. Although we have to admit that it would be fun to see.
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The main goal of a program like this is to lower the time needed for grocery dispense and to increase the accuracy by eliminating possible human errors. The robot can handle repetitive and simple tasks like pasta and canned tune retrieving, while human workforce can focus on customer service and selling. I think we all can agree that customer service at Walmart is one area where focus is continuously needed.
The new Alphabot is just the latest step in the long line of recent improvements carried out by Walmart. As recently as the end of last year Walmart expanded its unlimited grocery delivery service to 1,400 locations and started InHome Delivery in three US cities , reaching 1 million people.
The innovations are not going to taper off any time soon as Walmart is planning to launch driverless grocery delivery in Houston later this year. This next-generation technology is in testing stages for now, but is very promising.
When it comes to Alphabot, the technology is by no means perfect. It is still in its infancy and needs to be studied, refined, and perfected, according to Walmart. Once it gets tested in New Hampshire, Walmart will then collect data and reviews from customers and associates to see how much positive impact it can make before rolling the program out nationally.
If we look at the numbers, it is clear how much Walmart values its online grocery delivery side of business and how heavily the biggest grocery seller in the world invests in it. Currently online grocery pickup is available in 3,100 locations and delivery from 1,600 stores. Walmart hired extra 50,000 personal shoppers’ workforce just for online grocery business, which has been booming.