(Image Source: Retail Dive)
Walmart continues to expand the automated micro-fulfillment application area
According to its latest blog post, Walmart will roll out automated micro-fulfillment to dozens of store locations. However, the exact date for this stays undecided. Walmart started investing in the technology in 2019 and launched it at one of their stores in Salem, New Hampshire.
With the upcoming application expansion to over 12 stores, Walmart wants to test a variety of configurations provided by different tech providers before scaling up. Their two main partners are Alert Innovation and Fabric. While Alphabot, a robotic picker that moves autonomously inside fulfillment spaces is the center of Alert Innovation, Fabric’s micro-centers focus on the capability to fit in limited spaces
This approach gives Walmart a chance to try out different options before choosing the best fit. The automated centers in Hampshire have enhanced efficiency by accelerating order assemblage, creating more service options and availability for customers.
Automation trend in upcoming years
Other retailers like Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize are also aware of the automated micro-fulfillment trend. But with its major market share, Walmart will still be the pioneer to set the pace for the whole sector.
Walmart also gave signal another retail technology innovation: automated drive-up kiosks. It is expected to replace the traditional pick-up service. In the midst of Covid-19, pick-up comes up as the preferred method for online shopping. Retailers will certainly look to innovate this service in the future.