Walmart expects roughly 65% of its stores will be serviced by automation by the end of 2026. AI will also be used in Walmart’s warehouses and stores in an effort to streamline its e-commerce fulfillment facilities and keep up with online orders.
The retail behemoth estimates that close to 55% of its fulfillment center volume will pass through fully automated facilities. And while the news comes on the heels of Walmart announcing that it plans to lay off roughly 2,000 employees from facilities that fulfill online orders, during an investor call, John Furner, CEO and U.S. President at Walmart, said: Over-time, we’ll have the same number of associates, possibly even more, but we’ll have a larger business and they’ll be new roles that’ll emerge that are more technical…and they’ll pay more.”
Automation Brings Higher Efficiency and Lower Cost to Walmart
Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize retail on many levels. Robots that are driven by advanced machine learning algorithms can tackle the unloading, sorting, and the moving of products in fulfilment centers. Drones, with the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on every unit, would fly over their location, read the tags, and keep tabs on inventory levels.
AI can also leverage both operational and historical data in order to improve processes such as pricing tactics, the management of inventory, and demand forecasting.
All these processes can provide a more seamless order fulfillment operation, which can enhance customer service. Additionally, the use of AI can also be leveraged to offer tailor-made product recommendations which translates into customer loyalty, lower costs, and greater efficiency.