Walmart Leads the Way in Retail Tech

Janitor robots and in-store order placement are taking their place among the bricks and mortar.

December 06, 2018

In January, Walmart will introduce 360 janitor robots with data-collecting skills to select stores, according to the Washington Times, by the end of its fiscal year, January 31, 2019.

The floor-cleaning ‘bots are the result of a partnership with Brain Corp of San Diego. The company’s BrainOS provides the machines with autonomous navigation and data collection capabilities, all tied into a cloud-based reporting system.

This is the big box retailer’s second adventure with sales floor robots.  More than a year ago, dozens of robots produced by Bossa Nova, another California developer, were placed in select stores to scan shelves and identify misplaced products, incorrect prices and inventory needs.

Walmart is not the only major company interested in the potential of robots. Nestle has installed a human-like robot (dubbed Pepper) in some of its Japanese stores to sell coffee makers to shoppers. Amazon uses robots to pull stock and pack boxes for customer purchases. Target is testing Tally, a robot programmed to keep track of inventory and scan products to ensure proper pricing, and Lowe’s has the LoweBot, an artificially intelligent-fused device to help customers find items via verbal or typed instructions.

Another addition to Walmart’s growing stable of technologies is a novel app on the handheld touchscreen device carried by store associates. Designed to guarantee that shoppers have the best possible in-store experience, the new application lets employees place orders from and with the customer paying on the spot with any acceptable payment method—including cash—in one seamless transaction, according to a report from the Associated Press.

To use the service, customers locate a Walmart associate, who can then order any item in the correct size or color. The customer can choose to receive the order through the mail or pick it up at the store. The new app was rolled out in time for the holidays in nearly 4,700 Walmart stores, and it will be available year-round.