Walmart Canada rolling out computer vision AI solution for on-shelf availability across the country
27. September 2022 | News, Retail Technology, ReTell, Shopping Today

Walmart Canada stores across the country are getting an automated AI-assist to keep shelves stocked and provide the best possible customer and associate experience – whether customers are shopping in-store or online

Following a 70-store pilot, a computer vision AI solution from Focal Systems that uses cameras to automate out-of-stock detection, is rolling out to all stores.

Out of stock is when an item, such as cereal for example, isn’t available on the shelf when a customer (or an associate picking online grocery orders) is looking for it.

This technology, which is integrated with the existing inventory systems, automatically detects real-time availability concerns (out-of-stock or low-stock) and directs store teams to replenish in popular departments like grocery, pets, health & beauty, frozen, dairy and more.

Walmart is one of the first retailers in Canada to deploy an AI solution for on-shelf availability – and it’s been a game-changer for associates and customers so far.

“We know it can be disappointing for customers when we don’t have products they want available on our shelves. That’s why we initiated this pilot using technology from Focal Systems that takes the guesswork out of knowing when a product is out of stock,” explains Robin DeMers, Director, Store Optimization. “This leading-edge technology provides real-time, automated alerts for replenishment in key priority areas within our stores. It also empowers our associates with cool tech that makes a big difference in the way they are able to work and provide the best possible customer experience.”

Here’s how it works:

  1. Computer vision cameras are installed in popular areas throughout the store, pointed directly at shelves. At pre-determined intervals, the cameras scan the shelves.
  2. When a product goes out-of-stock, it will trigger replenishment through Walmart’s existing inventory systems.
  3. An associate will receive the alert and re-stock the shelf as soon as possible to ensure the best product availability for our customers – whether they’re shopping in-store or online for grocery pickup and delivery.

And the technology is already getting glowing reviews from our associates who use it every day. Megan Osborne, Store Manager at the Walmart Heartland Supercentre, one of the pilot locations, says her associates are excited to work with technology that helps make their work simpler and better for their customers and that it’s been a “game-changer” in her store.

“With this bold step, Walmart is driving this industry forward in AI-adoption and retail automation, challenging the status-quo on availability, customer experience, and employee satisfaction,” shares Francois Chaubard, CEO, Focal Systems. “Walmart is raising the bar, and we are inspired to help in any way we can. Focal is thrilled to be a key part of Walmart’s store digitization efforts nationwide!”

This investment in technology to automate out-of-stock detection is the latest in a series of in-store innovations that help to improve the associate and customer experience.

Source: Walmart Canada

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