Walmart tests ‘Alphabot’ picking system

US retail giant Walmart has announced plans to introduce a new ‘Alphabot’ automation system that’s the company says will help staff but at Salem New Hampshire supercentre “fill online grocery orders faster than ever before”.

Mark Ibbotson, Executive Vice President of Central Operations, Walmart U.S., said in a blog on the company website that the new “Alphabot” system “will work behind the scenes to make the [online grocery order] process even easier by automatically bringing items from storage to associates [staff] who will consolidate the items in the order”.

According to Ibbotson: “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.”

A 20,000 ft.² extension will be connected to the Salem store, and this will house the Alphabot system. The extension will serve as a dedicated grocery pickup point and will include drive-through lanes for customers, though will also serve home delivery.

Inside the unit, mobile carts will collect the ordered items and deliver them to 4 pick stations, where personal shoppers will then pick, assemble and deliver orders to customers.

“The vast majority of grocery products we offer in-store will be fulfilled through this system,” said Ibbotson, “though our personal shoppers will still handpick produce and other fresh items.”

The new Alphabot system should be up and running by the end of the year.