Walmart Robot

Sign of the Times: Walmart to Hire Robots for the Holidays

Walmart says its robotic shelf-scanner and stockers will free up time for its associates to focus on serving customers and selling merchandise.

As holiday shopping gets underway, retail giant Walmart plans to "hire" a number of new associates to stock shelves at their stores, and not a single one of them will be paid minimum wage. The retailer plans to purchase two-foot tall robots, manufactured by Bossa Nova Robotics, that are fitted with cameras that will enable them to scan aisles and check stock, while identifying missing, misplaced, mislabeled and mispriced items. The robots will provide that information to human employees, who will then fix the issues.Technology can help humans move away from repeatable, predictable and manual and task and move towards selling more, says Walmart as it announced last week that robots would help stock shelves in some of their stores.

The introduction of shelf-stocking robots is all about helping human workers help more customers. “This new shelf-scanning technology frees up time for our associates to focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart – serving customers and selling merchandise,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement.

The robots are more productive and can scan shelves more accurately and faster than human employees, company officials told Reuters.

The concept has been tested in stories in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and California and another 50 locations will get this technology.

Walmart explains that in addition to moving employees to more productive tasks, the company is hoping to save customers time and make “stores more convenient and easier to shop, ensuring that products are available when our customers want them.”

The robots are more productive and can scan shelves more accurately and faster than human employees, company officials told Reuters.

However, the robots will not replace workers, according to Martin Hitch, chief business officer at Bossa Nova Robotics. As reported by Jared Leone, of Cox Media Group, Hitch explained that since the robot has no arms, employees will still need to pick up products. "We know that the store associates will always be better at that."

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