Walmart to build robot-run warehouses at its stores

Walmart has announced plans to build local fulfilment centres (LFC) run by automated bots at its retail stores.

These LFCs, which are compact, modular warehouses either built within or added to a store, will fill pickup and delivery orders.

The US retail giant said that instead of an employee fulfilling an order from retail shelves, robots will retrieve the items from inside the warehouse.

The item will then be brought to a picking workstation where the order can be assembled quickly.

While the system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper handpicks fresh items and large general merchandise from the sales floor.

When the order is complete, the system will store it until its ready for pickup; the process can take just a few minutes from when the order is placed until when it’s ready for a customer or delivery drive to collection.

These warehouses will store thousands of the most popular items, from consumables to electronics.

“We’ll be building local fulfilment centres with various technology partners, including Alert Innovation, Dematic, and Fabric,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product, Walmart. “With these partners, we’ll be testing different orientations and add-on innovations to understand what works best in different environments.

He added: “For example, in some locations, we’ll be adding on to our stores. In others, the fulfilment centres will sit inside the existing store footprint.”
In some stores Walmart will be adding automated pickup points, which enable customers and delivery drivers to drive up, scan a code, and grab their order.

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