Fox News reports that Walmart is saying that it plans "for about two-thirds of its stores to be serviced through automation in the massive retailer’s supply chain by the end of 2026 … The company explained that, by the end of fiscal year 2026, roughly 65% of Walmart stores will be serviced by automation, about 55% of fulfillment center volume will move through automated facilities and average costs per unit could improve by approximately 20%.
"Walmart said that as the changes take hold, employees’ roles will require less physical labor but will have higher pay. The company is the world’s largest retailer by sales and is the biggest employer in the U.S. private sector with about 1.7 million workers. It's unclear whether the company will lay off warehouse workers as it undertakes more extensive automation of its processes."
Fox News notes that "in recent years, Walmart has invested billions of dollars in technology for its online order facilities, including the acquisition of grocery robotics firm Alert Innovation and partnerships with companies like Knapp to streamline its processes. Those actions have cut the number of steps required for employees to process e-commerce orders from 12 to five."
- KC's View:
The numbers and the deadline may be news, but nobody should be surprised that this is the direction in which Walmart - and other retailers - are headed.
The number that keeps being used is that in the US economy today, there are two jobs for every available employee - which means that businesses have to find other solutions. One obvious option is automation, and we're going to see a lot more of this going forward.