Walmart’s Alphabot System Rolls out to Second Location
Walmart has made another move toward expanding the use of its stores as fulfillment centers, adding its Alphabot system to a second location.
The Alphabot system operates inside a 20,000-square-foot warehouse-style space, using autonomous carts to retrieve ambient, refrigerated and frozen items ordered for online grocery. After it retrieves them, Alphabot delivers the products to a workstation, where a Walmart associate checks, bags and delivers the final order.
RIS News first reported on Alphabot in 2018, when the retailer revealed it had partnered with startup Alert Innovation to develop the autonomous order picking system specially for Walmart. In early 2020, the exclusive Alphabot tech finally went fully operational. Now Alphabot is fully operational in two Market Fulfillment Centers (MFCs), Bentonville, AK, and New Salem, NH. The system will be rolled out to a handful of additional MFCs before the end of 2023, according to a spokesperson for Walmart.
Alphabot got a second location on Monday, when Walmart opened its first high-tech Market Fulfillment Center in Arkansas at Store 100 located at 406 S Walton Blvd in Bentonville. The Market Fulfillment Center (MFC) is built within the store and is powered by the proprietary storage and retrieval system.
Walmart said in a press release it “believes fulfillment through digitization and connecting its store and supply chain assets end to end will transform fulfillment. And along with it, customer satisfaction and associate opportunity.”
Area shoppers should see the benefits of the MFC almost immediately, the retailer said.
“This new order fulfillment system is truly game changing,” said Ryan Simpson, the store manager at Store 100. “Not only does it enhance the customer experience through quicker, more accurate online order fulfillment, it also provides us the runway to continue growing our business now and in the future.”
Market fulfillment centers are expected to significantly increase the number of orders the store is able to fulfill in a day and free up associates to help customers shopping in-store. In addition, Walmart said working with the Alphabot system presents new leadership jobs in stores, like the newly created MFC Lead, and opportunities to learn and teach new tech-forward skills.
“I love the MFC. The dedicated space allows us to concentrate on picking items for our online customers,” said Gilbert Giron, an MFC digital team lead at Walmart. “I feel confident that the items our associates are looking for are going to be there when a customer wants them. That makes me feel good, because I know our team is providing our customers with great service.
“We’re innovating toward an even better shopping experience every day, and on every platform,” said Prathibha Rajashekar, senior vice president of Innovation and Automation at Walmart. “To help our customers and associates live better, we’re using technology to help them save time. That leads to improved experiences for everyone, no matter how they shop – and moves our entire business forward in the process.”