Walmart trials new digitised store format

Supermarket retailer Walmart has launched a new technology called Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) that allows it to monitor its physical stores more efficiently and keep costs under control.

The retail giant is testing this new technology, which includes artificial intelligence-enabled cameras, interactive displays and a massive data centre, in its 50,000-square-foot neighborhood market grocery store in Levittown, New York.

According to IRL CEO Mike Hanrahan, the location is one of Walmart’s busiest stores and has more than 30,000 items and this allows them to test out the new technology concept in a real-world environment.

“We’ve got 50,000 square feet of real retail space. The scope of what we can do operationally is so exciting,” Hanrahan said.

IRL is set up to gather information about what’s happening inside the store through an array of sensors, cameras and processors. It has a combination of cameras and real-time analytics that will automatically trigger out-of-stock notifications to internal apps that alert associates when to re-stock, detect the products on the shelf and compare the quantities, among others.

Hanrahan said the first thing this equipment will help the team focus on is product inventory and availability. In short, the team will use real-time information to explore efficiencies that will allow associates to know more precisely when to restock products, so items are available on shelves when they’re needed.

“Customers can be confident about products being there, about the freshness of produce and meat. Those are the types of things that AI can really help with,” Hanrahan said.

Walmart said with its new IRL technology, customers can trust that the products they need will be available during the times they shop.


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