Walmart Canada Brings AI to Shelf Edge

Partnership with Focal Systems set to roll out nationwide
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Walmart Canada
Computer vision AI technology from Focal Systems will help Walmart Canada associates make sure shelves are properly stocked.

After a successful pilot program at 70 stores, Walmart Canada is expanding its partnership with software company Focal Systems to bring a computer vision artificial intelligence (AI) solution to stores throughout the country. The technology will help the retailer detect low-stock or out-of-stock products in real time.

Focal Systems’ solution is integrated with Walmart Canada’s existing inventory systems to automatically detect availability concerns and direct store teams to replenish products. The retailer is one of the first in Canada to deploy this type of technology for on-shelf availability.

“We know it can be disappointing for customers when we don’t have products they want available on our shelves. That’s why we initiated this pilot using technology from Focal Systems that takes the guesswork out of knowing when a product is out of stock,” said Robin DeMers, director of store optimization. “This leading-edge technology provides real-time, automated alerts for replenishment in key priority areas within our stores. It also empowers our associates with cool tech that makes a big difference in the way they are able to work and provide the best possible customer experience.”

Megan Osborne, a store manager at one of the pilot locations, said her associates are excited to work with Focal Systems’ technology and that it’s been a “game-changer” in her store.

"With this bold step, Walmart is driving this industry forward in AI-adoption and retail automation, challenging the status-quo on availability, customer experience, and employee satisfaction,” shared Francois Chaubard, CEO of Burlingame, Calif.-based Focal Systems. “Walmart is raising the bar, and we are inspired to help in any way we can. Focal is thrilled to be a key part of Walmart's store digitization efforts nationwide!"

Walmart Canada operates a chain of more than 400 stores nationwide serving 1.5 million customers each day. Walmart Canada is No. 23 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart U.S. is No. 1.

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