Walmart says inventory-tracking robots underperformed, ends contract: 4 details

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Walmart terminated its contract with a robotics company after a year of testing roving robots that tracked inventory in its stores, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Four things to know:

1. Walmart ended its high-profile, five-year partnership with Bossa Nova Robotics after finding humans recorded similar results as robots designed to automate inventory tracking. The retail giant had hoped the robots would reduce labor costs and make sure inventory was appropriately stocked, which would lead to better sales.

2. Due to the pandemic, more shoppers are ordering online, and Walmart was able to move more workers to walking the aisles while collecting their orders. The company is considering using those employees as well as other automation technology to track inventory, according to the report.

3. Walmart CEO John Furner also expressed concern about how customers feel about 6-foot-tall inventory management robots in the stores. About 500 stores had incorporated the robots before the contract was ended.

4. Walmart told Bossa Nova that it saw an improvement in stores with robots, but the robots did not provide enough gains in revenue and other metrics, according to the report.

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