States such as Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and California have had friendly robotic employees roaming the aisles of Wal-Mart for the last three years, and according to the retail corporation, it’s planning on expanding. As of now, the expansion includes Fort Worth and El Paso in Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida.
By the end of January 2018, the stores should get equipped with the new bots, which puts robots in a total of 50 of Wal-Mart’s stores. The robots, which have been successful in their current stores, are two feet tall and use cameras to scan if items have missing pieces, are missing labels, or are out of stock. The robots then transmit the information to store management so problem areas can be assessed swiftly and adequately without taking away from customer service.
For those who are familiar with the retail power-chain, the expansion shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Wal-Mart has been doing everything and anything it can to compete with another retail powerhouse, Amazon. Over the course of the past year, Wal-Mart has announced the roll-out of programs such as mobile express returns, same-day delivery capability, and a line of groceries for their jet.com.
Wal-Mart is determined to focus more on customer interaction, which is why they appear to be taking the human element away from the everyday tasks that take away from really serving customers. The company has also introduced large vending machines to dispense customer’s pickup orders, and have even tested a self-serve grocery kiosk in one of their Oklahoma stores.
Unsurprisingly, Wal-Mart is not the only store that is testing robotic technology to scan their shelves. Schnucks Markets announced in July that it was running a pilot in three of its stores during morning, afternoon, and night. The real-time information was then sent to store associates, and the robots were programmed to stop moving if a customer approached.