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Walmart welcomes robot takeover with devices that carry out shopping orders and scan runs

Walmart welcomes the robot take-over by using machines to shop and add shelf scans to more than 650 stores in an attempt to take on Amazon

  • Amazon uses robots in its stores to compete with Amazon
  • A robot system fulfills groceries in a Supercenter in New Hampshire
  • Devices for scanning shelves are added to 650 stores throughout the country
  • These robots look for empty shelves or problems while they roam the aisles

Walmart embraces a robot takeover to compete with Amazon.

The Arkansas-based company uses robots to run groceries in one of its Supercenters and plans to add shelf scans to 650 additional stores by the end of the summer.

The shift is aimed at reducing costs, improving store performance and gaining credibility in the fight against being the king of retail.

Walmart announced that it would soon include automated robot carts, named Alphabots, in one of its superstores in Salem, New Hampshire in 2018.

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Walmart uses robots to run groceries in one of its Supercenters and will add sheep scanners (in the photo) to 650 additional stores by the end of the summer.

Walmart uses robots to run groceries in one of its Supercenters and will add sheep scanners (in the photo) to 650 additional stores by the end of the summer.

The system is now implemented in a warehouse-style style of 20,000 square meters.

It uses autonomous carts to pick up ambient, refrigerated and frozen items that have been ordered for online shopping.

After the products are collected, Alphabot takes them to a workstation where a human employee checks the order, packs it and sends it for delivery.

People will also be in charge of manually picking products and other fresh products, but it is said that Alphabot “helps with easier and faster collection of all other items.”

Walmart has announced that it will soon include automated robot carts, called Alphabots, in one of its superstores in Salem, New Hampshire in 2018. The system is now implemented in a warehouse-style style of 20,000 square meters

Brian Roth is senior manager for pick automation and digital activities for Walmart US: “By compiling and delivering orders to employees, Alphabot streamlines the order process, allowing employees to do their work faster and more efficiently.”

“Ultimately, this will shorten dosing times, increase accuracy and improve the entire online supermarket.”

“And it will help free employees to focus on service and sales, while technology can handle more everyday, repeatable tasks.”

Alphabots (photo) pick up ordered items, which are stored 'in warehouse style', and then take them to Walmart employees at one of the four different stations

Alphabots (photo) pick up ordered items, which are stored 'in warehouse style', and then take them to Walmart employees at one of the four different stations

Alphabots (photo) pick up ordered items, which are stored ‘in warehouse style’, and then take them to Walmart employees at one of the four different stations

The fully autonomous bots of the system work on three axes of movement, which is a more flexible system than is normally found in traditional fulfillment centers and warehouses.

Because the carts carrying articles move both horizontally and vertically without elevators or conveyor belts, there are fewer space limitations that need to be considered, which should facilitate acceptance of the system in all stores.

The robots constantly collect data about products, allowing Walmart to understand the needs of its customers and to design new protocols to improve the delivery experience.

“We never want to be able to tell an online supermarket customer that they can’t have an item,” Roth said.

Bossa Nova (photo) is six feet tall and wanders the aisles looking for empty planks or problems.

Bossa Nova (photo) is six feet tall and wanders the aisles looking for empty planks or problems.

Bossa Nova (photo) is six feet tall and wanders the aisles looking for empty planks or problems.

“We can view datasets and honestly say,” these two pasta brands are usually bought together, “or” here’s an item that a consumer often buys, “and use that information to make better-informed substitutions.”

The company also uses new technologies at other locations across the country and plans to add shelf scanning robots to 650 more US stores by the end of the summer – with a total of 1,000, Bloomberg reported.

The robots, called Bossa Nova, are six feet long and roam the aisles in search of empty shelves or problems.

Walmart says the board scanners can reduce tasks that once took two weeks to a routine of twice a day.

HOW CAN WALMART HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY COMPETE WITH ITS RIVALS?

Last year, Walmart revealed that it is rolling out shelf-scanning robots in more than 50 US stores to replenish inventory faster and save employees time when products run out.

The approximately 2-foot (0.61-meter) robots come with a tower equipped with cameras that scan aisles to check inventory and identify missing and misplaced items, incorrect prices and incorrect labels.

The robots pass on that data to employees, who then have the shelves in stock and resolve errors.

Items that are not in stock are a major problem for retailers because they miss out on sales whenever a customer cannot find a product on the store shelves.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has tested shelf scanning robots in a handful of stores in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California.

And one of Walmart Inc’s best chances of adopting Amazon.com Inc in e-commerce is with six giant server farms, each larger than ten football fields.

These facilities, which cost Walmart millions of dollars and took almost five years to build, are beginning to bear fruit.

The online sales of the retailer have been tearing up in the last three consecutive quarters, so that the growth in the industry is much greater than that of the retail trade.

The reason for this increase is thousands of own servers that enable the company to crack virtually unlimited sets of customer data in-house.

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