Walmart has entered an agreement to acquire Alert Innovation, a robotics automation company that develops material-handling technology for automating order fulfillment in retail supply chains. Walmart has been working with Alert to customize technology for its market fulfillment centers (MFCs) since 2016. Now, the retailer plans to increase its investment in the technology in order to leverage its 4,700 stores, which put the retailer within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, for storage and fulfillment.
The first Walmart MFC was launched in late 2019, using technology from Alert to create fully automated robots that store, retrieve and dispense orders by moving horizontally, laterally and vertically across three temperature zones without any lifts or conveyors. This enables operations with fewer space constraints inside the MFC and eliminates the need to pause the entire system for maintenance.
Bringing Alert’s capabilities in-house will help Walmart deploy MFCs more quickly to improve the delivery experience for shoppers and provide a competitive advantage in omnichannel fulfillment. The acquisition is part of Walmart’s broader goal of introducing next-generation fulfillment centers as the retail giant works to further improve its supply chain.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the Alert Innovation team to Walmart and scaling their capabilities,” said David Guggina, SVP of Innovation and Automation, Walmart U.S. in a blog post. “Bringing their expertise to Walmart will help us accelerate our MFC strategy and further strengthen our deep bench of technology and engineering talent. Looking ahead, we will continue to modernize our supply chain operations through investments in robotics and automation in our stores and distribution and fulfillment centers, creating exciting new experiences for customers that are unique to Walmart.”
Alert Innovation, based in the Boston area, will continue to operate under the Alert Innovation brand.