The big picture: Retail has been hit hard by e-commerce but one area that's remained resilient to change is the grocery industry. Walmart is continuing to invest in technology to improve the overall experience, even if delivery isn't in the cards.
Walmart is injecting some cutting-edge technology into the backroom of one of its supercenters.
In partnership with start-up Alert Innovation, Walmart is prepping a first-of-its-kind automation system that’ll help associates gather and package online grocery orders.
The Alphabot system is currently being installed at a supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, as part of the store’s renovation that’ll also include a 20,000-square-foot expansion. The new area will house Alphabot and serve as a dedicated grocery pickup point complete with drive-thru lanes for customers.
Walmart says the vast majority of grocery items will be fulfilled through the Alphabot system and delivered to associates at one of four pick stations. Associates will then pick, assemble and deliver orders to customers.
With Alphabot handing more mundane and repeatable tasks, workers will have more time to focus on assisting in-store shoppers. They’ll still be responsible for handpicking produce and other fresh items.
Alphabot is far from Walmart’s first foray into technology and robotics. The big box retailer is actively expanding its self-service Pickup Towers to more than 500 stores across the country and is trialing a robot that scans store shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels.
Alphabot is expected to be up and running by the end of the year, we’re told.