In retail there is a need for speed.
Consumer expectations for a fast, convenient e-commerce experience is at an all-time high (thanks, Amazon) and retailers are responding. To complement its click-and-collect service, Walmart will pilot automation technology called Alphabot to fill grocery orders. The robots will bringing items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order.
Developed specifically for Walmart, the system will be housed within a 200,000-sq.-ft. "backroom" at a supercenter location in Salem, New Hampshire. It will also serve as a grocery pickup point with drive-thru lanes for shoppers. In a blog post, the retailer said Alphabot would be up and running by the end of the year.
The setup is slightly smaller, but similar to Ocado's recently-opened customer fulfillment centre in Andover, U.K. The Andover CFC is a three-storey grid of storage crates containing groceries. On top of the grid a fleet of 1,100 robots grab items and deliver them to “pick stations” where “personal shoppers” assemble orders for delivery. This is similar to the fulfillment centre Ocado will be opening with Sobeys
In Canada, Ocado is partnered with Sobeys and will be opening a customer fulfillment centre in the Greater Toronto Area in 2020.