The selection of products from shelves for customers to pick up later is becoming more automated.
Walmart now has a full operational Alphabot, a high-tech system working inside a 20,000 square-foot warehouse-style space where it uses autonomous carts to retrieve refrigerated and frozen items ordered for online grocery.
After retrieving the items, Alphabot delivers them to a workstation, where a Walmart employee checks, bags and delivers the final order to a customer.
The system was in test mode at a Walmart supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, since last year and now is fully operational.
Before Alphabot, Walmart employees would select items from the sales floor for customers, package and deliver them. Produce and other fresh items will still be selected by hand, while the robot, developed by Alert Innovation, does the rest.
“Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency,” stated Brian Roth, a senior manager of pickup automation and digital operations for Walmart U.S. “Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of online grocery. It will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks.”
The technology can allow shoppers to place orders closer to pick-up time and reduce time when picking up an order.
Here’s an important key: using real-time data sharing makes stocking more intelligent, making substitutions easier to anticipate and fill. When a particular item being ordered is not available, the technology can look at datasets and analyze what a consumer often buys and use that information to make an informed substitution.
Walmart shoppers may never see the robot, but it will be working behind the scenes to modify how they shop.