Walmart Tests Robots for its Expanding Online Grocery Operations
In a move to optimize its logistics for online grocery orders, Walmart is employing a floor-to-ceiling automated system in one of their Salem, NH stores. This new system can gather 800 grocery products per hour – 10x the amount a human can collect.
Walmart hopes that this tool will give them a competitive edge in the growing world of online grocery ordering. Currently, Walmart customers who want to shop for groceries online have the option of picking up their order or having it delivered to their house.
While only 3.5% of all food and beverage sales are done online, any number of online orders creates a logistics problem for the company. Not only is it a challenge to fulfill all online orders in a timely and cost-efficient manner, but there is also an added sense of urgency when delivering produce and refrigerated or frozen items that need to be delivered quickly.
Walmart is not the only company that is trying to profit from online grocery shopping. Walmart’s biggest e-commerce competitor, Amazon, also offers 2-hour grocery delivery. According to an article from CNBC, Walmart’s groceries cost up to 20% less than those offered by Amazon.
The robotic grocery gathering system is yet another move from Walmart in order to position itself ahead of Amazon in the competition for the best online grocery option. According to The Wall Street Journal, Walmart is already planning to install three more systems like the one in Salem.
Amazon Enables Alexa Payment at Select Gas Stations
E-commerce giant Amazon has announced a partnership with ExxonMobil and financial service technology provider Fiserv to allow payments at gas stations through Alexa. This new feature will be a part of the company’s payment service, Amazon Pay.
To use the service, Amazon customers will summon Alexa when they pull up to the gas station. They will then confirm the gas station and pump that they are using and Alexa will “process the payment and activate the pump for usage,” according to an article from Freight Waves.
Amazon believes that this process will not only be more efficient for customers, but safer. By having the gas payment processed through Amazon Pay, customers can avoid getting their cards skimmed while at the pump and having their payment information stolen.
For some, paying through Alexa at the gas station is not worth it. The payment will not stop someone from having to get out of their car, and it may become tedious to confirm with Alexa what gas station they are at and what pump they are going to get their gas from.
Amazon is banking on the pros outweighing the cons, hoping people will use their Alexa-enabled gas payment services. The service will be available at 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations later this year.