When shoppers in the Salem, New Hampshire area go online and order groceries to pick up later at Walmart, a robot will help get those items ready for pickup.
Walmart said in a blog post this past week that it is installing a system called Alphabot that will help human workers in the Walmart Supercenter in Salem retrieve items and prepare them to be picked up by the customer.
“Our online grocery service is already a huge hit with customers, allowing them to quickly and conveniently order groceries online, select a pickup time and have those groceries delivered to their car in minutes,” Walmart Executive Vice President of Central Operations Mark Ibbotson wrote in the company’s release. “Alphabot will work behind the scenes to make the process even easier by automatically bringing items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order. For our pickup associates, that means less time walking the store aisles in search of products and more time ensuring customers are getting the absolute best in fresh produce, meats, etc.”
Alphabot was created in partnership with startup Alert Innovation.
Walmart said the store in Salem has added a 20,000-square-foot extension to the store to house the system, along with drive-thru lanes for customers who ordered items on line and are picking them up. Automated mobile carts will retrieve items that have been ordered and deliver them to Walmart employees near the pickup lanes. The human workers will assemble the orders and deliver them to customers.
“The vast majority of grocery products we offer in-store will be fulfilled through this system, though our personal shoppers will still handpick produce and other fresh items,” Ibbotson said.
The company said the system will be running by the end of the year. The company will test the idea, with possible rollout to other stores in the future.