Shoppers at Tampa Bay Walmarts might be encountering little robots that scan the shelves for empty spots and find sale prices that need updates, Tampa Bay Times reports.
Dubbed “autonomous scanners,” these robotic helpers already operate in Jacksonville and after successful trials, will be making their way in Tampa Bay locations, according to Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene.
"We continue to be intentional about finding new ways to save customers’ time and money," said Keene to the outlet. "We're tried and true on saving money."
Now, technology is enabling America’s largest retail chain and grocer to save time, too. The outlet speculates that innovations from its competitor Kroger such as smart shelves may have been a source of pressure.
Given the lack of Kroger-owned supermarkets in Florida, Walmart has the perfect opportunity to dazzle shoppers with displays of tech prowess, according to Tampa Bay Times.
“Roaming employees equipped with mobile devices — similar to what is used by Apple store employees — can check out shoppers with one or a few items. In Walmart, they wear yellow sashes that say, ‘Check out with me,’” says the outlet.
"The talk, historically, has been, 'Oh, the lines at Walmart,'" Keene said to Tampa Bay Times. "But if you're coming in for screws and duct tape, you're able to get with that associate standing in the aisle and you're on your way out."
The autonomous robots make the way through aisles, equipped with a long arm that can reach shelves. Instead of managers having to manually check prices and available items, the robots takes stock and generates reports, giving managers more time to interact with customers on the sales floor.
The autonomous robots make the way through aisles, equipped with a long arm that can reach shelves. Instead of managers having to manually check prices and available items, the robots take stock and generate reports, giving managers more time to interact with customers on the sales floor.
Keene sees the use of automation as an example of relegating a repetitive task to robots so workers get more face time with customers. Delighting customers in-store is seen as a way to complement the online shopping experience.
"There's still a lot of people who like to come into a store and shop," said Keene to the outlet, "who want to touch it, feel it, and like the ambiance and interaction."