Walmart made headlines in 2020 by replacing its robots with human beings. Now the retail behemoth is doubling down on automation and looking forward to changes in its human workforce.
Walmart has established a new, fully automated warehouse in Florida. Investors got a tour of the 1.4 million-square-foot facility with its robotic claws and automated vehicles. The machinery comes from Symbotic, a company Walmart bought into last year.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC that the company is focusing on higher profits, and automating warehouses is one way to accomplish that. They’re also focusing more on their e-commerce marketplace and streamlining operations.
The human workforce won’t necessarily be reduced, he said, but there will be a different assortment of jobs. For example, there will be fewer people working in warehouses and more people delivering goods to people’s homes. Some home delivery for Walmart is done by independent contractors through a phone app, and the amount they earn depends on multiple factors, including customer tips and local incentives and promotions. These jobs may not be the same kind of employment as warehouse jobs.
Walmart has been a leader in automation in the past, and the new initiative suggests that this approach is continuing. “We see the opportunity to accelerate that progress with investments in supply chain automation, which includes data, software and robotics that will improve item accuracy, in-stock levels, unit economic costs and delivery speed,” said a Walmart statement.
Image courtesy of Walmart