Author: Perez Clark
Walmart is acquiring the e-grocery automation company Alert Innovation, which specializes in developing material-handling technology for order fulfillment automation in retail supply chains.
In this post, we’ll talk about Walmart’s new deal and how it stands to reinvent the retail supply chain capabilities.
Let’s get started!
Expanding Walmart’s Market Fulfillment Center Capabilities Through Automation
Walmart is taking a huge leap with its supply chain operations and order fulfillment logistics through its purchase of US-based e-grocery and robotics automation firm, Alert Innovation. The retail giant began working with Alert Innovation in 2016 to customize the technology used in its market fulfillment centers.
“We will continue directing our manufacturing and development expertise to empower Walmart to develop and leverage market fulfillment technologies in its outlets,” said Alert Innovation CEO Fritz Morgan. “Through Walmart, we will have the chance to improve millions of human lives with our Alphabot system.”
Alert Innovation’s Alphabot system stores, retrieves and dispenses customer orders with omnidirectional robots that move freely without the need for lifts and conveyors – thus enabling fewer space limitations and making the process seamless and easier to scale.
The custom-tech company will retain its brand and operate under its name in Boston.
What Does This Acquisition Mean For Walmart?
Alert Innovation’s Alphabot technology enables Walmart to maximize its vast store footprint – 4700 stores stationed within 10 miles of 90 %of the American population – for storage and fulfillment.
The acquisition of Alert Innovation is crucial in Walmart’s grand scheme to expand technology in all its operations and develop the next generation of advanced fulfillment centers.
Now, Walmart can better attend to orders and fulfill them quickly and conveniently, from the pickup stage to the end.
“We at Walmart are dedicated to fulfilling our customers’ desires and exceeding their expectations. Our focus is always on new and innovative ways to serve customers, whether in-house or in any one of our stores, said the senior Vice president of Innovation and Automation at Walmart U.S, David Guggina.
“Using Alert Innovation’s technology in-house will allow us to reach more of our customers quicker by establishing MRCs (Micro Fulfillment Centers) with increased speed and efficiency, thus providing both a competitive advantage in omnichannel fulfillment and an unmatched customer shopping experience,” he added.
In 2021, Walmart publicly said it would be adding automated micro fulfillment centers to a large number of its stores and outlets, integrating technology established by companies like Alert, Fabric, and Dematic. The company explained that it would test the micro fulfillment center solutions in its stores and also buildings adjacent to them.
“Looking ahead, we will continue to develop and improve on our supply chain logistics through further investments in automation and robotics technologies in all our distribution and fulfillment centers, creating never-felt-before customer satisfaction experiences that remain unique to us and our customers,” Mr. Guggina said.
Walmart is taking significant steps forward each time it advances its in-house robotic capabilities. Ever since 2016, the retailer has been piloting the use of bot technology in its stores to increase its distribution and delivery efficacy.
In September, Walmart officially launched the first “Next Generation” Fulfillment Center (FC) in Joliet, Illinois. The 1.1-million-square-foot building uses machine learning and advanced robotics technologies to streamline a manual 12-step process to a five-step process.