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Walmart is Getting Robotic

Walmart
Photo Credit: Walmart.

Walmart unveiled a sleek new robot called Alphabot that can pack a grocery bag 10x faster than a human.  The system will help improve the efficiency of fulfilling online orders and free up associates to perform higher-value tasks.  Walmart calls it an innovation in “micro-fulfillment.”  

Walmart has been operating the pilot system in a 20,000 square foot warehouse at the Salem, New Hampshire location since mid-2019.  They plan on rolling it to two additional Walmart stores in Oklahoma and California later this year.            

The Impact:  Alphabot should also help free up the grocery aisles at Walmart, which have become increasingly crowded with associates walking around to fulfill online orders.  The company is optimistic Alphabot will enhance the experience for high-value, in-store customers.

  • The Takeaway: Bold innovation is table stakes for long-term success in the grocery business.  In December of 2019, Walmart announced a partnership with a company called Nuro to develop autonomous grocery delivery vehicles.  But competition in the online grocery business is incredibly fierce, with companies like Amazon and Kroger aggressively vying for customers.  The announcement wasn’t enough to impress the market and Walmart shares were down 0.34% on the day. 

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