We’ve heard a lot about robots being used by companies like UPS, Amazon and on college campuses and even hospitals, but now customers will see them working retail at Walmart stores.
In 2017, Walmart began to test trial robots in 50 of its stores launching a pilot program for robots to scan its shelves to make sure that items had the correct price on them and that they were in stock.
Now, this year, these robots will be rolling the retail floors at 350 of Walmart’s stores, co-mingling with shoppers as they look for the company’s signature low-priced deals.
Walmart, which is the world’s largest retailer, also announced that besides using its inventory-scanning robots on the sales floors, other robots programmed to do different chores will be employed. For instance, floor-scrubbing robots are being planned for approximately half of the company’s 4,700 stores in the US. Then there will be inventory-robots programmed to scan boxes as they are unloaded from their delivery trucks and then sorted on conveyer belts at some 1,700 of its stores.
Being a global retail leader, Walmart’s employment of robots will be an interesting act to follow for others in the retail business.
This will eliminate a number of tasks and according to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, the presence of robots and automating certain tasks will give their employees more time to do work that is fulfilling and most of all more time to interact with customers.
Of course, the first thought one is left within the elimination of certain tasks is the reduction of human workers in all areas of operation. Unfortunately, that is where all the automated robot use is headed, as they provide more efficiency, certain jobs will be eliminated, which was shared in a conference call with market analysts by Walmart’s US CFO Michael Dastugue.
It will be an interesting project to watch as it continues to evolve on two fronts. First, will be how the public feels about the mainstreaming of the presence of robots as they shop. Secondly will be that as the use of automated robots in its workforce evolves, Walmart is expected to save a ton money in salary, benefits and other personnel expenses.
In 2018 Walmart spent $2 billion dollars in remodeling its stores to keep up with the changing economic forces around it with the trend to online purchasing and ordering for pick-up or direct delivery for instance.
So the use of robots is in line with these changes and we may see it in all areas of retail brick-and mortar stores in the future.