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The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart “is expanding its use of robots in stores to help monitor inventory, clean floors and unload trucks, part of the retail giant’s efforts to control labor costs as it spends more to raise wages and offer new services like online grocery delivery.”

Walmart tells the Journal that “at least 300 stores this year will add machines that scan shelves for out-of-stock products. Autonomous floor scrubbers will be deployed in 1,500 stores to help speed up cleaning, after a test in hundreds of stores last year. And the number of conveyor belts that automatically scan and sort products as they come off trucks will more than double, to 1,200.”
KC's View:
Walmart says that the investment in automation allows it to replace people with machines in appropriate areas, though it is quick to say that it is reassigning people, not laying them off. At the same time, the money it is saving in stores allows it to make greater investments in e-commerce and fight off challenges from Amazon.

Seems to me that this resets all the competitive battles, creating a lot of challenges for companies that cannot make these kinds of investments. They’re not insurmountable challenges, but everybody has to be aware of them.