The world's largest retailer announced on Tuesday that it adds thousands of new robots to its stores. By next February, it expects to have autonomous floor scrubs in 1,860 of its more than 4,700 US stores. Walmart will also have robots that scan shelf storage at 350 stores. And there will be bots at 1,700 stores that automatically scan boxes as they come from trucks and sort them by department on conveyor belt.
Walmart says these "smart assistants" will reduce the amount of time workers spend on "repeatable, predictable and manual" tasks in the stores and allow them to switch to selling goods to customers and other customer services.
The retailer believes getting bots will boost your sales and make your stores more efficient. Walmart also says that bots limit employee turnover, because it's hard to consistently find workers loading trucks and keeping stores overnight.
Walmart has tested this technology in hundreds of stores over the past year. The expansion plan means that innovations have been effective for Walmart so far.
Big stores and new features
Robot printers and shelf scanners
"It relieves associates with a job that is honestly unpopular," Mark Ibbotson, head of Walmart's US operations and real estate, said last year.
"We see an increase in turnover and reductions in turnover in what would have been a very difficult job to fill," said CEO McMillon last year.
Walmart says all three robots will soon share data with each other to bring the products to the shelves faster and ensure that the hallways are clean and fully equipped.
The future of retailing
Walmart has said it will reduce the hours it allocates to emptying cans and mopping floors. That will cause someone to let go of time, Walmart said.
"As we evolve, there are certain activities, some jobs that are going to go away," said US Treasury Secretary Michael Dastugue at an analyst conference last month.
But Walmart expects to use some of the hours it saves due to robots to assign workers to newly created roles, such as choosing customer's grocery purchases and delivery orders.
Dastugue said the technology will force employees to be flexible and "able to handle change."
"We may need them to do them an activity in the morning and another afternoon activity," he said.