Robots, New Checkout, Virtual Realty Come to Texas Walmarts

The robots are coming to Texas Walmarts.

Walmart Texas spokeswoman Anne Hatfield says stores across the state are getting an infusion of technology that will enable them to better compete with on line retailers by increasing customer service to shoppers, which is the one thing that Amazon can’t offer.

“If you want to go into a store and touch and feel a product, we have that option for you,” Hatfield said.

Free grocery pickup and grocery delivery are now pretty standard across the 300 Walmart stores in the state.  But new innovations include expansion of the ‘Pickup Tower’ concept, which has been introduced in several San Antonio area stores, where shoppers can walk into the store and quickly obtain items they have ordered on line automatically, using a tower that looks like a huge vending machine.

Hatfield says a new service being offered at Texas Walmarts is what is called ‘Check Out With Me’ which eliminates what most shoppers agree is the most annoying part of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, the check out line.

Hatfield says instead of just making the check out self-service or one touch with a debit card, Walmart is going one step more.

“New ways to check out, it’s called ‘Check Out With Me,’ where you don’t have to go near the checkout line,” she said.  “Just walk up to one of our associates anywhere in the store and they will check out out right there in person.”

And...look for robots.

Autonomous Shelf Scanners, known as ‘Bossa Nova Scanners’ after the company that invented them, are autonomous vehicles which you will soon seen rolling up and down the aisles at local Walmarts.  They are currently in place in 13 stores around Texas.

The robots automatically scan the shelves to fund out what products are selling fast, what need to be replenished, and what may have been placed back on the wrong shelf.

Hatfield says the robots won’t be replacing any human Walmart workers, they will simply free them up to perform the customer service that can only be obtained at a traditional retail store.

“Continued innovation is the key to giving retailers across Texas the edge in a competitive environment,” said George Keleman, President of the Texas Retail Association.  “These advancements give local customers options on how and when they shop and improve their overall experience with a store.”

Walmart is also using new ‘virtual reality’ techniques to train new workers, by allowing them to actually experience ‘challenging scenarios’ so they can handle them competently when they arise on the store floor.

IMAGE: GETTY

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