Walmart Canada is implementing an automated AI assist at all of its stores to help keep shelves stocked and enhance the customer and associate experience both in-store and online. The rollout follows a 70-store pilot of a computer vision AI solution from Focal Systems that uses cameras to automate out-of-stock detection.
The computer vision cameras are installed in busy areas throughout the store and scan shelves at pre-determined intervals, integrating with Walmart Canada’s existing inventory system to detect availability concerns — including both out-of-stock and low-stock warnings — in real time. The system then directs associates to replenish shelves in their respective departments, including grocery, pets, health and beauty, frozen and dairy.
“We know it can be disappointing for customers when we don’t have products they want available on our shelves,” explains Robin DeMers, Director, Store Optimization at Walmart Canada in a statement. “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. 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.”
Walmart also has built out its inventory management capabilities at its U.S. stores through the August 2022 acquisition of Volt Systems, a solution provider that offers suppliers enhanced on-demand visibility into merchandising resources. While the deal is focused on bolstering Walmart’s supply chain rather than the in-store experience, the ultimate result is similar — Volt Systems’ tools are focused on helping retailers measure shopper demand, which will help the retail giant reduce the friction caused by out-of-stocks and better manage inventory during a period of supply chain uncertainty.