Walmart is Ready to Up Its Robot Game
Prior to the start of Major League Baseball’s 2018-2019 offseason, Philadelphia Phillies managing partner and co-owner John Middleton was famously quoted saying that the team was prepared to spend “stupid money” in order to improve their 82-loss squad. And they did just that, committing nearly $500 million in new salaries to their payroll, including the signing of prized free agent Bryce Harper, which has resulted in the team getting off to a fast start and having World Series aspirations for the first time in nearly a decade. So, sure, they spent a stupid amount of money, but some might say it was worth it.
That sports analogy is exactly what comes to mind when I read about the efforts of big box giant Walmart and what they’re doing to transform themselves logistically in order to compete with the ecommerce behemoth that is Amazon.
In a blog posted to the company’s site this week, Walmart brand content manager Elizabeth Walker detailed how the retailer is using automated assistants—a fancy way of saying robots—to become a smarter, more efficient retail operation. Over the past year or so, the company has been testing in-store robots to help automate a number of tasks that would’ve been traditionally handled by human employees, including cleaning floors, scanning shelves for inventory, and in-store online order pickups. The goal, according to the retailer, is not to eliminate human jobs. Rather, they’re using the robots to take care of the more mundane tasks, freeing up human employees to take care of other tasks more efficiently. It’s a way of working smarter rather than harder.