Walmart Starts to Use Robots Now In Retail Stores

Walmart has announced that they are beginning to use self-scanning robots in over 50 locations around the country. These machines will check inventory, prices, and items that aren’t in the right place.

Robots are already common in major companies especially in their warehouses, but not many retail locations. This is a huge step for a company like Walmart, making these tasks that are time consuming for employees to be completed in a timely manor.

One major issue with the use of these robots in a settling like Walmart is the thought of many employees losing their jobs to the robots, but Walmart has assured that wont be the case. They claimed that, “the robots’ introduction won’t lead to job losses, and that the company wants to save employees from carrying out tasks that are repeatable, predictable, and manual”. Will this really be the case? What will all these employees now take on in the workplace?

Below is the video of how these robots will work in store: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=_j2oh432RFY

Vincent, James. “Walmart Is Using Shelf-Scanning Robots to Audit Its Stores.” The Verge, The Verge, 27 Oct. 2017, www.theverge.com/2017/10/27/16556864/walmart-introduces-shelf-scanning-robots.

9 thoughts on “Walmart Starts to Use Robots Now In Retail Stores

  1. I feel like this idea of robots doing the manual work in a grocery store parallels the idea that Amazon has with its ‘No Checkout Store.’ The idea that a machine, or in this case, robots, will be doing the job that human employees traditionally would is essentially the same as idea as robots in Wal-Mart stocking shelves. This concept is a solid example of machines taking over the manual labor of a wage job (even if the company does not outright say it will replace these jobs at the moment). This innovation is heading toward the movement of replacing all manual labor for robots which would presumably do the jobs more efficiently and cheaper and ultimately toward an influx in jobs requiring higher education as a result of the dwindling manual labor workforce.
    https://gizmodo.com/amazon-tests-grocery-store-with-no-checkout-1789683651

  2. This is the second post I’ve seen about robots and it seems as if they’re going to become very prevalent in society soon, even more than they are now. I don’t think that Walmart’s statement can be true about robots not replacing the work of their employees, like that’s literally what this is point blank. Bagging and checking out groceries employes so many people around the world. This will be taking away jobs of unskilled older workers who maybe didn’t get an education and it will also be taking away jobs of teenagers in high school. So many kids that went to my high school worked at the grocery store near my house and if this technology was implemented in there all those kids would be without jobs, I don’t really see where else they could have placed them in the store. All the other tasks that they would be qualified to do are already occupied, like the deli section, or restocking, etc. Another issue I see with this is there is a lot of room for error. The robots will be very expensive to get in the first place and technology gets updated all the time where you’re going to keep having to buy the latest version of the robots. And in my little town of Mars, if a robot were to break down who around us it going to know how to fix and how fast? Lastly, it also takes out the customer service and human interaction of the check out.

  3. The age of integration between humans and robots are among us. This reminds me of the scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie’s dads jobs is replaced by the machine. These robots will take the jobs of the unskilled workers and then they will be forced to educate themselves to them work on these robots. For those who say that these robots take away jobs just think about where out future is heading. Especially since there is such a huge push for every single student to go to college to educate themselves in 20 years no one will want the job of bagging groceries. I think this move will be necessary soon and that Walmart is just ahead of the game. Think about every time you been to Walmart and there is only two lanes open. These robots will allow of us to live our lives more efficiently. Already we robots being integrated into our lives. I think its a little ignorant to think that people will not be comfortable with this move. We have things like Alexa who help guide the lives of people by delivering them news and reminding them to do their daily tasks. Everything we do nowadays in online. The security risk will also not be a big issue because just like every innovation that has happened in the last 50 years, rules have always been placed to protect the privacy of it users. Ultimately I think this move is necessary and will happen whether or not people like it or not.
    This article gives more examples of all the jobs that these robots could be placed in.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11994694/Heres-what-will-happen-when-robots-take-over-the-world.html

  4. Although the introduction of robots into the workplace seem like a threat to human employees, I believe that technological advancements such as this would be a positive thing. Robots helping employees complete repeatable, tedious tasks would help employees be more efficient in other larger tasks and pay more attention to helping their customers have a better overall experience. I do not think that these robots would cause employees to lose their jobs, but would actually enhance their work experience and efficiency. Other retail stores should begin to invest in robots in the workplace as well, because they seem as if they would really be helpful to businesses. It is important for us to welcome technological advancements into our lives, so I think that this kind of technology would be worth investing in!

  5. Even though robots and machines are being integrated into the workplace more, I still don’t think people should be worried. People have been talking about the advancements of technology and how they will replace humans in lots of jobs, but that is so far off it’s funny. In the article, I posted below it talks about how a world run or where robots are heavily used is very far off. It also talks about the hype around that goes overboard. Like the video of the robot that can jump over obstacles like a gazelle. That is cool to see, but when will that ever be useful for anything? Back in the 1980’s so many movies talked about how we would have flying cars in the 2000s. Guess what we don’t. Back in July, it was shown on the news how a sweeper robot in D.C. just ran itself straight into a fountain and was destroyed. This wasn’t what we expected and until I see some real practical advancements the hype over robots is overdone. So this is cool to see but for people thinking robots are replacing us and are afraid let’s just calm down a bit.

    http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/dont-believe-hype-ai-driven-world-still-long-way-off/

  6. Robots have played a huge role in warehouses and to now see them in retail stores is pretty cool. One major issue we can see though is the worry of warehouse employees who have the fear of loosing their jobs. Fortunately Walmart has released a statement saying that the workers do not need to worry. Hopefully this works out for Walmart because then we will see other companies start to pick up the idea as well. Hopefully they do not see too many issues with the robots either because they probable will not be a cheap fix and we also have to make sure customer feel okay shopping with the robots. Other than that all in all I think its a really cool idea and hope to see how it works out for Walmart.

  7. Just as mqp5524 said, I believe these robots are being brought in to cut labor costs. If employees are not preforming some of the tasks (inventory management) that they were doing before, then undoubtedly Walmart will need less staff. With Walmart losing so much money to competition currently, it would make sense for them to try to find ways to reduce their costs.

    I am personally optimistic about the introduction of robots into inventory management. If the robot software and systems is calibrated correctly, It would increase efficiency and reduce inventory mismanagement. When I worked at a grocery retail store, there were always common problems involving inventory mismanagement. It was unavoidable, but it still caused losses to the company.

    The change I would definitely like to see come to stores such as Walmart would be robots that could assist with inventory management, stocking, and checkout. I feel that if Walmart prototyped a store that was almost completely automated by Robots, we would be able to see if such an endeavor was feasible with our current technology. If anything, it would make me shop at Walmart again.

    More info on the robots:
    https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/27/16556864/walmart-introduces-shelf-scanning-robots
    Examples of possible Robot positions:
    https://www.techemergence.com/robots-in-retail-examples/

  8. Although advancements in technology are often praised, and rightfully so. We as the human race have come so far in technology, however could it be that we may have gone too far? I say this because once we introduced robots into our everyday stores like Walmart, then we invite the idea to have robots in more common places. Like homes, schools, etc. Now while it maybe beneficial in regards to the efficiency of running a business, or school or even with a task around the house, it is also dangerous. It opens up a vulnerabilities security wise. This could be personal data the robot has downloaded, or access to the building or facility it is tied to. If someone were to comprise that security it could be fatal.

    Here is an article that I found on other dangers of robots, you may agree: https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/dangers-of-unregulated-ai-and-robots-loom

  9. As robots are becoming more and more common in warehouses I find it interesting that Walmart is trying to put them in retail stores. Walmart is seriously struggling to compete with Amazon and other online retailers and are loosing a lot of money because of it. They are trying to make adjustments to stay afloat and this is one of them. I do not see how or why Walmart would not get rid of low wage employees that these robots are replacing. The reason Walmart is bringing in robots is to cut costs, so keeping the employees while also getting robots would be counter productive. I do not think Walmart is being honest to their customers when they say the robots will not lead to job loss.

    All this is assuming the the robots work. I personally do not think they will. I do not think customers will be comfortable shopping with robots also in the isles. Maybe I’m wrong about this but I think it will be a few more years until consumers are ready for this. So I believe we will not see robots wondering the isles of our retail stores for quite some time in the future. However the idea of it is interesting and it is a way retailers could cut costs and even lower prices for the consumers. The question is if it is worth it to get rid of the jobs they would replace.

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