Walmart will pilot automation to help fill online orders.

Walmart testing a robot to fill online orders

Walmart is making another big move in the “grocery wars,” introducing automation to help store associates fill online grocery orders.

Alphabot, a first-of-its-kind automation in partnership with Alert Innovation, is expected to fill grocery orders faster than store associates currently can, according to a Walmart release.

After customers order online just as they do now, the technology will automatically collect the items from storage. Then the machine will delivery groceries to associates, who will then consolidate the items into individual orders.

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Walmart personal shoppers will still handpick produce and fresh items.

The pilot Alphabot is being installed in a new Walmart store in Salem, New Hampshire, where there will be a 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store for the new system and as a point for grocery pickup with drive through lanes. It is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

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“Although this is a small pilot, we expect big things from it,” said Mark Ibbotson, executive vice president of central operations for Walmart. “We have a lot to learn about this new technology, and we’re excited about the possibilities of how we can use it to make the future of shopping – and working – even better.”

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