America's largest retailer/employer is adding shelf-scanning robots to 650 more stores by August, expanding its total robotic fleet to 1,000 stores, reported Bloomberg.
Walmart's push for robots comes at a time when labor-costs are eating into profits. The company will have trouble passing increased costs to consumers; it will have to embrace automation on the front and back end of stores to drive labor costs lower, which will, in return, lead to a significant amount of its workforce slashed by 2030.
The U.S. unemployment rate lingers at several decades low and risks reversing as rising employment costs have led to a decline in job openings at the start of 2020. This could suggest the labor market has lost momentum, and rising costs have forced employers to stop hiring. Like Walmart, other companies will have to adopt automation and artificial intelligence to replace low-skilled workers to drive costs down.
C-suite executives at Walmart are ahead of the trend, some have argued they're creating the trend, with the widespread adoption of robots in stores.
The latest one is a six-foot-tall shelf-scanning robot equipped with 15 cameras that checks if products on shelves need restocking.
CEO Doug McMillon has said automation in stores is a way to improve store performance and lower labor costs.
Walmart has adopted automation in stores for the last decade -- most of the 4,750 U.S. stores have self-checkout kiosks, doing away with humans ringing up items for customers.
A recent report via McKinsey & Co. found about 50% of all retail jobs will be slashed in the coming years because of automation.
As we've mentioned before, automation will displace at least 20 million U.S. jobs by 2030, with food service, retail, transportation, and warehousing being the industries most affected with job losses.
If you're currently employed in one of these industries – now would be the time to get reskilled for a high-demanding job.