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Walmart unveils grocery-picking robots

Alphabot helps the big-box retailer fill orders faster and more efficiently

Walmart believes it has the technology to “revolutionize the online grocery pickup and delivery process for associates and customers.”

The big-box retailer officially unveiled Alphabot–autonomous carts that retrieve ambient, refrigerated and frozen items–at one of its Supercenters in Salem, New Hampshire. Walmart has been testing the technology within a 20,000-square-foot warehouse-style space at the Salem store since mid-2019.

Once the items have been picked, they are delivered to a workstation where a Walmart associate checks, bags and delivers the final order.

Walmart outlined some of the benefits of the Alphabot system in a recent blog post:

    • The system increases fulfillment speeds, creating more convenience for customers by allowing them to place orders closer to pickup time and reducing wait time when picking up an order.
    • Bots can move both horizontally and vertically without any lifts or conveyors, making adoption in a small space easier.
    • Real-time data sharing means that stocking will get more intelligent, making substitutions easier to anticipate and fill.
    • A streamlined process allows associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency.

“By assembling and delivering orders to associates, Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency,” said Brian Roth, senior manager of pickup automation and digital operations for Walmart U.S.in a blog post.

“Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of online grocery. And it will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks,” he added.

Walmart said it would assess a broader Alphabot rollout based on associate and customer feedback.

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