Walmart Debuts Alphabot to Speed Up Online Grocery Orders

Walmart's Alphabot technology will help fulfill grocery pickup-up orders within its stores.
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Walmart (WMT) - Get Report unveiled its Alphabot robotic automation technology which is designed to help fulfill grocery pickup-up orders within its stores.

The retailing giant has been testing the platform at one of its Supercenters in Salem, New Hampshire, since the middle of last year.

Alphabot, Walmart said Wednesday, will speed up online grocery orders by automatically bringing items from storage to employees who will consolidate the items in the orders. The system uses autonomous carts to retrieve the shelf-stable foods, refrigerated items and frozen goods that customers order online.

Employees will spend less time walking the store aisles in search of products, Walmart said. The workers will continue to pick produce and other fresh items by hand to make certain that aren't damaged.

A 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store houses the new system in Salem and will serve as a dedicated grocery pickup point with drive-through lanes for customers.

Alphabot was developed by Alert Innovation, a start-up company in North Billerica, Massachusetts.

Walmart said it was planning to construct two additional Alphabot facilities, at stores in Mustang, Oklahoma, and Burbank, California.

Grocery sales account for 56% of Walmart’s total U.S. revenue, making it the country’s largest grocer. E-commerce sales at Walmart grew 41% last quarter, driven by strength in grocery and as a growing number of shoppers are using the company's website to order groceries for pick-up or delivery.

Walmart has nearly 3,100 pickup locations for online grocery orders across the U.S., with more than 1,400 stores offering same-day grocery delivery and about 1,400 pickup towers.

Shares of Walmart were off slightly to $116.48.