Last year, Walmart made big news when the giant U.S. retailer signed a contract with Robotic company Bossa Nova Robotics to have their robots take over many inventory functions in some stores.
Around 500 robots rolled down the aisles at various locations across the country, scanning shelves for inventory and alerting management if it was time to restock. Many people said this could be the beginning of the end for human retail clerks. However, it looks as if the company decided regular old human employees were a better option.
Walmart recently decided to end its contract with Bossa Nova. The reason? During the high-demand times of the COVID-19 lockdown, the company discovered human workers were actually more efficient at quickly checking and restocking shelves.
Plus, it turns out human shoppers would rather interact with other people than robots rolling past down the aisle. Human stockers can direct people to products, reach items for those with disabilities, and you know… talk… to customers.
COVID-19 inspired changes in buying habits have also inspired Walmart to change four of its stores into ‘labs’ to test out new e-commerce friendly features that will make it easier and faster for customers to order online for pickup or delivery.