Walmart commits to buying Alert Innovation in an attempt to expand Market Fulfillment Center capabilities through automation.

Walmart has worked with Alert Innovation to customize automated e-grocery fulfillment technology since 2016 and began piloting the Alphabot System in 2019 – a customized automated e-grocery fulfillment technology.

Market fulfillment centers (MFCs) serve as automated fulfillment centers within Walmart stores for online grocery orders. Walmart piloted the first MFC in Salem using bot technology from Alert specifically built for Walmart. These autonomous bots could store, retrieve and dispense orders by moving horizontally, laterally, and vertically across three temperature zones without any lifts or conveyors. After retrieval, the items are then brought to a workstation. There, a Walmart associate checks that the items match up to the customer’s order, bags the items and delivers the final order to the customer.

The mass merchant plans to use the technology to reduce reliance on sales associates and to power Walmart’s 4,700 U.S.-based store locations as market fulfillment centers (MFCs) for online orders. The system also shares data in real time and learns as it stocks items. This technology is expected to become more intelligent over time and is expected to learn how to substitute items to reduce the volume of out-of-stock notices customers receive.

Walmart plans to continue to modernize its supply chain operations through investments in robotics and automation in its stores and distribution and fulfillment centers, creating exciting new experiences for customers that are unique to Walmart.