Walmart was the first food retailer to recognize the need to automate fulfillment of online orders at store-level. As a result, four years ago, Alert Innovation began working with Walmart to create the Alphabot® technology designed specifically to automate order-fulfillment at the store level. Alphabot helps serve customers faster by automating the picking, storage and dispensing of orders.
Walmart’s announcement is exciting as it’s the largest deployment of automated micro-fulfillment technology announced to date by any retailer and represents a major step in the evolution of local fulfillment. The team at Alert Innovation is proud to join Walmart on this journey and look forward to helping them better serve their customers in this new way at scale.
From Ground-Breaking to Breaking Ground: Walmart Begins to Scale Local Fulfillment Centers
By Tom Ward, SVP of Customer Product, Walmart U.S.
It’s clear that one of Walmart’s competitive advantages is our stores. And today, stores are transforming to serve more and more purposes – we’re using them to fill pickup and delivery orders, make Walmart.com deliveries and more. We have a great operation that will serve us well for years to come, but we aren’t stopping there.
Our customers love the speed and convenience of pickup and delivery, and we’re committed to finding faster ways to serve them, which is why we’re scaling the number of stores that will also serve as local fulfillment centers. We’re already planning dozens of locations, with many more to come.
A local fulfillment center (LFC) is a compact, modular warehouse built within, or added to, a store. In addition to fresh and frozen items, LFCs can store thousands of the items we know customers want most, from consumables to electronics.
Instead of an associate walking the store to fulfill an order from our shelves, automated bots retrieve the items from within the fulfillment center. The items are then brought to a picking workstation, where the order can be assembled with speed.
We’ve always said personal shoppers are the secret to our pickup and delivery success and that remains true. So, while the system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper handpicks fresh items, like produce, meat and seafood, and large general merchandise items from the salesfloor.
Once the order is collected, the system stores it until it’s ready for pick up. This whole process can take just a few minutes from the time the order is placed to the time it’s ready for a customer or delivery driver to collect.
We began piloting our first local fulfillment center in Salem, New Hampshire in late 2019. The technology is impressive. Equally impressive are the results:
- More availability: We are able to pick more orders and do it quicker, creating more availability for customers.
- Faster fulfillment: The system speed can allow orders to be picked up or delivered within the hour.
- Greater efficiency: One local fulfillment center can fulfill orders for many stores, which means its benefits can be felt by customers in stores nearby.
We’ll be building local fulfillment centers with various technology providers, including Alert Innovation, Dematic and Fabric. With these providers, we’ll be testing different orientations and add-on innovations to understand what works best in different environments. For example, in some locations, we’ll be adding on to our stores. In others, the fulfillment centers will sit inside the existing store footprint.
Finally, in some stores, we’ll be adding automated pickup points. Think of it as the ultimate convenience that allows customers and delivery drivers to drive up, scan a code, grab their order and go!
It’s no secret our customers love the speed and convenience of pickup and delivery. These local fulfillment centers help unlock our ability to expand even faster to meet their needs today, while also setting a new foundation to serve them in the future. We’re excited about this new chapter for our business and what it means for our customers.
The blog post sited above was originally published in January 2021
on the Walmart corporate website.
BOSTON, MA, January 11, 2021 – Built In today announced that Alert Innovation, Inc., the maker of the retail industry’s most effective automated fulfillment solutions, was honored in its 2021 Best Places To Work Awards. Specifically, Alert earned a place on the Boston Best Places to Work and Boston Best Midsize Companies to Work For lists. The annual awards include companies of all sizes, from startups to the enterprise, nationally and in the eight largest tech markets and nationally.
“The full team at Alert Innovation is honored to be recognized for the company’s culture and the benefits we offer. As a fast growing company in a fast growing industry, we know the importance of being an employer of choice and this award validates the resources we’ve devoted to attracting and retaining great associates,” says Alert CEO and Founder John Lert.
Built In determines winners for Best Places to Work based on an algorithm, using company data about compensation, benefits and cultural programs. To reflect the attributes candidates are searching for on Built In today, this year’s program weighted criteria more heavily, like remote opportunities and programs for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“These companies raise the bar for cultural excellence and the ability to adapt to meet changing needs of employees,” says Sheridan Orr, Chief Marketing Officer, Built In. “The 2021 winners show a commitment not just to creating meaningful cultures but to delivering talent needs as they change in a dynamic landscape. We’re thrilled to extend our congratulations to the winners.”
Tech professionals rely on Built In’s Best Places to Work lists to discover employers that align with their preferences, passions and values. Since its inception three years ago, the award has expanded in reach, from online views of tens of thousands to just under 1 million views today.
About Built In
Built In, a revolution in tech recruitment, serves more than 1,800 innovative companies of all sizes, from startups to the enterprise, delivering content and digital recruitment solutions that work. The platform amplifies companies’ brands as national, local or remote employers of choice, as well as leaders in DEI. Monthly, 2.5 million tech professionals rely on Built In to stay up on trends, grow in their roles and discover companies with missions they want to join. The platform publishes stories about companies’ tech, culture and people. This activates sought-after professionals to apply to customers’ open roles. http://www.builtin.com
About Built In’s Best Places To Work
Built In’s esteemed Best Places to Work awards, now in its third year, honor companies across numerous categories: 100 Best Places to Work, 50 Best Small Places to Work, 100 Best Midsize Places to Work, 50 Companies with the Best Benefits and 50 Best Paying Companies. Two new national categories reflect what candidates are searching for, including 100 Best Large Companies to Work For and 50 Best Remote-First Places to Work.
Best Places To Work: Methodology
Built In ranks companies algorithmically based on compensation information, benefits and culture programs. This year, based on data showing tech professionals’ needs, the Best Places to Work algorithm added weight to companies’ commitment to DEI and remote culture. Rank is determined by combining a company’s score in each of these categories.
About Alert Innovation, Inc
Founded in 2013, Alert Innovation’s mission is to improve people’s lives through innovation, starting with retail, by transforming how people shop and how retailers operate. Alert Innovation has brought to market the Alphabot Automated Storage and Retrieval System and Automated Each-Picking System and is creating a new kind of automated supermarket called Novastore™. More information is available at http://www.AlertInnovation.com.