Walmart Further Automates Grocery Pickup, Delivery With Alphabot
Walmart Inc. has been piloting a new fulfillment option at its supercenter in Salem, N.H., and this week the retailer said that the system is now fully operational and working with associates. Alphabot, a technology designed specifically for Walmart by North Billerica Mass.-based startup Alert Innovation, enables quicker, more efficient order picking.
A 20,000-square-foot extension was added to the store to act as a warehouse-style space for online grocery orders. The Alphabot system uses autonomous carts to retrieve ambient, refrigerated and frozen items. The products are then brought to a workstation where a Walmart associate checks, bags and delivers the final order.
The system was announced in 2018 and has been operating at the pilot location since mid-2019. Walmart outlined some of the benefits of the Alphabot system in a recent blog post:
- The system increases fulfillment speeds, creating more convenience for customers by allowing them to place orders closer to pickup time and reducing wait time when picking up an order.
- Bots can move both horizontally and vertically without any lifts or conveyors, making adoption in a small space easier.
- Real-time data sharing means that stocking will get more intelligent, making substitutions easier to anticipate and fill.
- A streamlined process allows associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency.
"Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of online grocery. And it will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks," said Brian Roth, senior manager of pickup automation and digital operations for Walmart U.S. "This is going to be a transformative impact to Walmart’s supply chain."
Walmart said that that after collecting associate and customer feed, it'll assess a broader Alphabot rollout.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.