Innovation

Walmart testing fully-automated store with no cashiers or checkouts

Computer vision will aid the initiative, dubbed Project Kepler, which is similar to the Amazon Go concept in Seattle.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Walmart is testing an automated store without cashiers, similar to the Amazon Go store concept.
  • The company is also experimenting with letting customers text orders, using specific photos of items or general descriptions.

Walmart is testing an automated physical store concept, Recode reported Wednesday.

Similar to the Amazon Go store idea, Walmart's concept, dubbed Project Kepler, reportedly uses computer vision to track and automatically bill customers' purchases, eliminating the need for human cashiers.

If picked up, the concept may push the boundaries of the standard retail store, and reduce the need for human employees, especially cashiers. Several of Walmart's 2 million-plus employees work the checkout—what will happen to them?

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

Recode noted that the new concept, if rolled out, could act as a supplement to normal Walmart stores, reducing the need to cut human jobs. The new stores could serve different areas and populations, growing the brand.

In the e-commerce sphere, Walmart is also experimenting with letting customers shop at their stores via text message. Guests may be able to text a photo of a specific item or a general description to a bot, which will select an item and add it to their order. The bots will use machine learning and natural language processing to provide the best items.

Household items will be delivered to the customer for free within 24 hours, with other items arriving within two days, Recode reported, potentially in an effort to compete with Amazon.

The personal shopping experiment, from new Walmart subsidiary Code Eight, seems to target "rich city dwellers," Recode said. Much like Project Kepler, Walmart can target new audiences using tech updates.

Both projects are in the early stages, Recode reported, but show how traditionally physical stores are adapting to keep up with a customer base increasingly shifting to online shopping. They may take awhile to come to fruition: Amazon's Go store has not yet opened after it was announced a year ago.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/krblokhin

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is an Education Reporter at Insider Louisville.

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