Walmart Makes Acquisition of Automated Grocery Firm In Attempt to Bolster Fulfillment
Walmart announced this week that it has acquired e-grocery automation firm Alert Innovation. The company produces and sells custom-built inventory-handling technology.
Alert Innovation's signature product is called the Alphabot system and is designed to store, retrieve and dispense orders by using robots that move freely in all directions without lifts or conveyors. This means that have fewer space constraints and makes the tech easier to scale.
Last year, Walmart announced that it would add automated micro-fulfillment centers to a handful of stores, with the use of technology from providers like Dematic, Fabric and Alert. It said at the time that it would test micro-fulfillment center solutions inside stores as well as in buildings near to them.
The acquisition of Alert Innovation is part of Walmart’s plan to expand technology throughout its operations and create a new and improved generation of fulfillment centres. The companies have worked together since 2016 to customize automation for its grocery micro-fulfillment operation and began using the Alphabot in 2019.
“Bringing the best of Alert’s technology and capabilities in-house will enable us to reach more customers quicker by deploying [micro-fulfillment centers] with greater speed, providing both an unmatched shopping experience and competitive advantage in omnichannel fulfillment,” - David Guggina(Senior Vice President of Innovation and Automation at Walmart US)
In May, the retail giant signed an agreement to deploy Symbotic’s end-to-end automation system across all 42 of its regional distribution centers and recently acquired a 10% stake in an AI company. All of these moves are an indication of Walmart's goal to scale up automation across its' supply chain.