Walmart is assembling an army of thousands of robots that it’s putting to work in its stores

Dennis Green and Áine Cain, Business Insider

Walmart is going all-in on robots.

In a statement released on its blog on Tuesday, the retail giant said it was unleashing a number of technological innovations, including autonomous floor cleaners, shelf scanners, conveyor belts, and “pickup towers,” on stores across the US.

“Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual,”

John Crecelius, Walmart US’s senior vice president of central operations, said in a statement. “It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail.”

Walmart announced that it would be adding 1,500 new floor cleaners, 300 more shelf scanners, 1,200 conveyor belts, and 900 new pickup towers.

With frequent minimum-wage hikes and the war for talent raging on in the world of retail, Walmart’s expanding robot army is a signal that the company is committed to keeping labor costs down.

The retailer also stressed that these machines free up workers’ time so that they can focus on customer service. Business Insider previously interviewed Crecelius about the shelf-scanning robots coming to the stores in 2018.

“This has largely been about how we improve our performance and improve our service to our customers,” Crecelius previously told Business Insider.

Crecelius previously said that the information provided by the robots — such as data on which items are running low — could even help customers shop Walmart’s online offerings because the store would have a more complete and accurate report of what exactly it has in stock.

Crecelius also said the main reaction associates and customers have to the robots is “natural curiosity.”

“People are just drawn to technology and what it does,” he said. “Our associates naturally get drawn to: ‘What is this going to provide, how can I use this in what I’m doing?'”

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