Walmart is enhancing its grocery pickup operations with Alphabot, a behind-the-scenes automation system. The program, which was developed in collaboration with startup Alert Innovation, automatically delivers items from storage to associates, minimizing the time spent manually gathering orders.
The system is scheduled to be tested in a Salem, N.H. Walmart warehouse, where a 20,000-square foot extension will connect Alphabot to the existing store. Automated carts will collect orders and bring them to associates at one of four pick stations, where they will be assembled and distributed to customers. The vast majority of products will be handled through the new system, though associates will still hand-pick produce and other fresh items.
The Salem store is scheduled to launch Walmart’s regular grocery pickup service Oct. 1, 2018, with the Alphabot system coming online by the end of the year. The store also will feature a home delivery option and a Pickup Tower during the second half of 2018.
Walmart e-Commerce sales, which increased 33% year-over-year in Q1 2019, have been fueling overall sales growth for the retail giant. The company boosted its capabilities by completely revamping the e-Commerce site in May and partnering with Microsoft to improve cloud and AI capabilities in July.
Sam’s Club also is investing in technology, and is hiring workers for a new officein Dallas. The 45,000-square-foot facility will operate separately from the technology centers that are shared between the two companies.