Walmart, along with startup company Alert Innovation of North Billerica, Massachusetts, is developing Alphabot, a grocery order-picking robotics system intended to enhance existing online ordering technologies. The system pilot will be introduced at a Salem, New Hampshire, store as part of its grand reopening. A 20,000-s.f. extension connected to the store houses the new system and will serve as a dedicated grocery pickup point with drive-thru lanes for customers.
Shoppers at the Salem store can expect regular grocery pickup to launch on Oct. 1, 2018. Walmart plans to have Alphabot online and running by the end of the year.
Alphabot will work behind the scenes to automatically bring items from storage to associates. The system will include automated mobile carts that will gather ordered items from the warehouse-style storage space and transport them to associates at the store’s four pickup stations. Personal shoppers will consolidate and assemble the orders for Walmart customers. According to Walmart, this system will enable associates to spend less time searching the aisles.
“With the aid of Alphabot, our associates will have more time to focus on service and selling, which are the two things they often tell us are the most enjoyable part of the job, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks,” said Mark Ibbotson, EVP of central operations for Walmart U.S. “Although this is a small pilot, we expect big things from it. We have a lot to learn about this new technology, and we are excited about the possibilities of how we can use it to make the future of shopping and working even better.”
Alphabot is not the only new technology being installed during the store’s remodel. Customers will see a Pickup Tower for Walmart.com orders and an automated shelf-scanner to help identify out-of-stock items, incorrect pricing and missing labels.