Smart assistants have huge potential to make busy stores run more smoothly, so Walmart has been pioneering new technologies to minimize the time an associate spends on the more mundane and repetitive tasks like cleaning floors or checking inventory on a shelf. This gives associates more of an opportunity to do what they're uniquely qualified for: serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Mobile Robots and Drones in Material Handling and Lotistics 2018-2038.
The 2018 tests of these technologies have been well-received, but it's not enough to have these cutting-edge systems in just a few locations. That's why additional technologies are coming soon to Walmart stores across America. And Walmart says they are going big:
1,500 new autonomous floor cleaners, aka "Auto-C": After an associate preps the area, this machine can be programmed to travel throughout the open parts of the store, leaving behind a clean, polished floor. Auto-C provides a cleaner shopping experience for our customers, and it frees up our associates to serve them better.
300 additional shelf scanners, aka "Auto-S": This technology scans items on store shelves to help ensure availability, correct shelf location, and price accuracy.
1,200 more FAST Unloaders: Working with the shelf scanner, the FAST Unloader automatically scans and sorts items unloaded from trucks based on priority and department. This allows associates to move inventory from the back room to the sales floor more quickly - ultimately giving our customers what they want, when they want it.
900 new Pickup Towers: A customer places an order online and selects for an in-store pickup. The associate loads the ordered item into the Pickup Tower. When a customer receives a notification via email that the item is available, they can use the Pickup Tower like a giant vending machine to retrieve their purchase.
Additionally two pieces of tech, the shelf scanners and the FAST Unloaders, share data back and forth to improve the whole process of getting products on the shelves.
Walmart has been piloting these different technologies for months now, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. "Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual," said John Crecelius, senior vice president of Central Operations for Walmart U.S. "It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail."
Source and top image: Walmart
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Sensors Europe 2020 on 13 - 14 May 2020 at Estrel Convention Center, Berlin, Germany hosted by IDTechEx.