Walmart Launches Alphabot, a Grocery-Picking Robot
SALEM, NH - You know what they say: there’s no rest for multi-billion-dollar retail behemoths looking to constantly best their competition. I would argue Walmart has probably said, “Sleep? I don’t know her,” at some point in its quest to be the best. After just announcing a new self-driving online grocery pilot last week, Walmart is taking to tech again this week and kicking off another pilot aimed at innovating online grocery.
Launching with the grand re-opening of the retailer’s Salem, New Hampshire, supercenter, Walmart’s Alphabot, piloted in partnership with startup Alert Innovation, is here to ensure online grocery is faster than ever.
“Over the past two years, we’ve piloted and implemented dozens of new technologies in stores across the country as we continue our quest to save precious time for our customers and associates. Today, we’re taking another big step on that journey by bringing cutting-edge automation tech into the backroom of a supercenter,” Mark Ibbotson, Executive Vice President of Central Operations, Walmart U.S., writes in a post on Walmart.com.
Alphabot is designed to streamline the fulfillment process by automatically bringing items from storage to associates. Rather than waste time having associates peruse store aisles hunting for items, the Alphabot will travel on automated mobile carts on a 20,000-square-foot extension to retrieve and deliver products to associates at pick stations, who will then consolidate and pack the orders.
“The vast majority of grocery products we offer in-store will be fulfilled through this system, though our personal shoppers will still handpick produce and other fresh items. We plan to have Alphabot online and running by the end of the year,” Ibbotson continues.
Has Walmart’s latest pilot cracked the code to online grocery or does the retailer or one of its competitors have another innovation up its sleeve? AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the changes happening in grocery.