Death of a stockboy? Walmart introduces shelf-scanning robots

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Walmart employees with shelf-scanning robot
Image Credit: Walmart
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Don’t you just hate walking down long grocery aisles to grab your favorite products only to find they’re out of stock?

Walmart wants to eliminate that disappointment with the help of shelf-scanning robots.

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Walmart’s new push to improve inventory control

After a pilot program in a few Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California stores, the nation’s largest retailer will put a fleet of 50 robots in select locations across the country to help reduce inventory-related labor costs.

These new robots on wheels are outfitted with cameras to scan several shelves of items at a time as they roll up and down the aisles.

The robots will help check stock, identify missing items, sleuth out incorrect prices and reportedly will even determine if someone abandoned an item on a shelf where it shouldn’t be.

A Reuters report says that the robots are about two feet tall, but an official Walmart video clearly shows they’re easily two or three times that size.

Walmart Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King tells Reuters that the robots will likely help improve employee job satisfaction and allow workers to deliver better service for customers.

“If you are running up and down the aisle, and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well and they don’t like it,” King notes.

Because of time constraints, human employees are only able to scan shelves about twice a week. The robots, however, will work three times faster while maintaining a high level of accuracy.

That alone should translate to a 50% increase in productivity when it comes to keeping shelves stocked and customers happy, King told Reuters.

The roll-out to all 50 stores should be complete by late January. Among the 50 markets on tap to get the robots are Jacksonville, FL, Ft. Worth, TX. and El Paso, TX.

Meanwhile, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about artificial intelligence and how robots could replace workers in some industries.

But the real story is that having more robots in the future means having more opportunities for a high-paying career fixing them.

As money expert Clark Howard notes, the job market is always flexing and you’ve got to flex with it!

It doesn’t cost a penny to learn a new skill that could benefit you as our economy tilts more heavily toward artificial intelligence. We’ve got a list of free resources for you here!

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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