Walmart’s new shopping platform might be the next big thing. America’s largest retailer has been testing a new shopping platform. The platform referred to as Alphabot has begun trial testing at a supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire. The aim of Alphabot is simple. Grocery shopping can be a chore for many. Automation of the process saves time. Customers’ needs may vary. And Alphabot is a system to automate all customer’s needs. Human interaction is necessary only at the end of the selection process.
Online Grocery Shopping Is Growing
Grocery shopping is done increasingly online. This has made life easier for American shoppers. Tom Ward, Senior Vice-President of operations at Walmart, said:
“Groceries [are] playing a great role in e-commerce growth.”
This shows that the market for online sales of growth within the United States is set to grow. This is great news for Walmart. 56% of their profit already comes from grocery sales. Its revenue has gone up by 2.5% to $127.99 billion last year from $124.89 billion.
Walmart’s investment in online grocery shopping models is unparalleled for now. The retailer currently has about 3,100 pickup locations for online grocery orders. It also has above 1,400 stores that offer same-day deliveries for online grocery orders.
With an unlimited option offering unlimited groceries for $98 annually or $12.95 monthly, Walmart has increased shopping choices by offering this option at over 1,400 locations as well. A direct model to refrigerators costing about $19.95 per month is also available as well.
Walmart’s New Shopping Platform Is a Complete Shopping System
Alphabot is a complete shopping system. It was developed by a Massachusetts startup called Alert Innovation. At an undisclosed initial cost, the system occupies about 8,000 square feet. It also has about 20,000 square feet of operating space.
The system uses autonomous carts that select items based on the customer’s preferences. They include the usual groceries to refrigerated items and even frozen foods ordered online. Once the orders have been filled, the carts are sent to workstations. Workers now check each order to ensure the accuracy of the orders processed.
Walmart has indicated that the system saves time as opposed to the normal method of picking up goods by hand. The retailer though indicated that certain types of groceries will still be handpicked. These include products such as fruit and vegetables and other fresh products. Those items are always subject to certain flaws which indicate that they would have to be replaced.
Alphabot represents the success of a fusion of the internet of things (IoT), robotics and artificial intelligence. Systems such as this one will change the way people live their lives.
Smart Systems Are Taking Over
We are going to see in the new decade smart systems replacing the old way of doing things. Smarter systems will do most of the heavy lifting.
Brian Roth, a senior manager of pickup automation and digital operations for Walmart U.S., said:
“By assembling and delivering orders to associates, Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency.”
“Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of pickup grocery,” he said. “And it will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks.”
This will also speed up the order process and increase revenues for the retailer as it faces stiff competition from other retailers such as Costco and Kroger and even Amazon with their acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017.
This changes the game. It will be interesting to see how the other competitors react. The “War of the Grocers” has just begun!
Christopher Haruna Hamman is a Freelance content developer, Crypto-Enthusiast and tech-savvy individual. He is also a Superstar Content Developer, Strategy Demigod, and Standup Guy.