(p. B4) Walmart plans to use autonomous robots in more stores by next year to scan shelf inventory to be able to detect products that are out of stock and direct workers and shoppers to precise product locations, Mark Ibbotson, head of central operations for Walmart U.S., said in an interview.
Walmart is also adding automatic conveyor belts to backrooms that sort products to speed the process of unloading the roughly nine trucks that arrive at a typical store each week, executives said at a presentation in June. The conveyor belts cut the number of workers needed to unload trucks by half, from around eight to four, they said.
The changes give Walmart more labor dollars to spend on “pickers,” workers who roam the store to compile online orders that are picked up by customers in store parking lots, said Mr. Ibbotson.
“It’s a savings” that allows Walmart to keep labor costs steady, through attrition and better using workers for new tasks, he said.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 1, 2018, and has the title “Target, Walmart Automate More Store Tasks.”)