The e-commerce industry had a significant effect on customers as seen with Amazon’s rapid growth.
Admit it, ordering stuff online isn’t just convenient, it’s also very addicting. All you have to do is browse through your phone, add the item you like to cart and pay. With just a few clicks of buttons, the sale is made.
That’s what Walmart is trying to do with its conventional brick and mortar stores throughout the country. They’re eyeing to deploy more tech assistants across its stores to replace tasks usually done by humans.
The robots will be made to do a wide variety of tasks within its stores following a “well-received” round of tests in 2018.
However, there’s an absolute fear that millions of people might lose their jobs over to robots. Walmart employs 1.5 million associates in the US alone. That includes people who do the cleaning, inventory, unloading, and so much more.
With more and more tech are being deployed, obviously, fewer people will be needed to do the labor.
Basically, what actual people will do is manage the robots and make them perform their tasks. That’s something only a handful of people can do rather than the usual headcount.
In response, Walmart says that the jobs that tech assistants will take over are routine work that usually becomes a nuisance for most Walmart associates; it either gets too dull, tiring and unfulfilling overtime. The company also said that many of the jobs that tech assistants will be used are where the company struggled to find, hire, and retain associates to do.
Also, they claim that they will still have plenty of work for its staff – like picking groceries for its booming online grocery business, for example. Grocery shopping, generally, accounts for more than half its annual sales and more of that business is shifting online.
With the advent of technology, routine jobs won’t be part of a usual Walmart associate’s job. They said in the press release last Tuesday that the additional tech assistants will give employees “more of an opportunity to do what they’re uniquely qualified for” which is serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor.
“What we’re seeing so far suggests investments in store technology are shaping how we think about turnover and hours. The technology is automating pieces of work or tasks, rather than entire jobs,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “As that’s happening, we have been able to use many of the hours being saved in other areas of the store — focused more on service and selling for customers,” they continued.
“We have now added over 40,000 jobs for the online grocery picking role in stores over the last year and a half. These jobs didn’t exist a short time ago. The result so far: we’ve seen our U.S. store associate turnover reduced year-over-year,” the spokesperson added.
Tech Jobs in Walmart
- Auto-C: the robot janitors have been deployed in some stores in 2018. Basically, what they do is clean the floors of the expansive halls within Walmart. The company even goes ahead saying that these robots clean floors better than humans. “After an associate preps the area, this machine can be programmed to travel throughout the open parts of the store, leaving behind a clean, polished floor,” Walmart said. The company is employing a fleet of 1,500 autonomous Auto-C’s.
- Auto-S: the tech assistant will be able to check the prices of products, monitor shelving displays and inform human staff what needs organized and restocked, and keeps an up-to-date database of the store’s current inventory. Walmart says about 300 Auto-S’ will be rolled out in its stores.
- Fast Unloaders: they’re called fast for a reason. They will be able to unload a truck of merchandise along with a conveyor belt in a fraction of time that it could be done by hand. The machines automatically scan and sort the items based on priority and department, to speed up the process and direct items appropriately. The Fast Unloader will also work alongside the Auto-S for efficient backdoor-to-front-door product transport.
- Pickup Towers: These are sort of vending machines where people can usually pick up their purchases through online transactions. This is an efficient tech assistant because it basically drops expenses paying for shipping for the actual customer. Around 900 of these towers will be added to Walmart’s tech arsenal in the next months.