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Walmart assembling army of thousands of robots to work in stores

Walmart executive John Crecelius said in a statement that the robots allow associates “time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers.”

Walmart is going all-in on robots.

In a statement released on its blog on Tuesday, the retail giant said that it was unleashing a number of technological innovations, including autonomous floor cleaners, shelf-scanners, conveyor belts, and “pickup towers” on stores across the United States.

“Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual,” John Crecelius, senior vice president of central operations for Walmart US, said in a statement. “It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail.”

Walmart announced that it would be adding 1,500 new floor cleaners, 300 more shelf-scanners, 1,200 conveyor belts, and 900 new pickup towers.

With the war for talent raging on in the world of retail and minimum wage hikes a frequent occurrence, Walmart’s expanding robot army is a signal that the company is committed to keeping labor costs down.

The retailer also stressed that these machines free up workers’ time so that they can focus on customer service. Business Insider previously interviewed Crecelius about the shelf-scanning robots gracing the stores back in 2018.

“This has largely been about how we improve our performance and improve our service to our customers,” Crecelius previously told Business Insider.

Crecelius previously said that the information provided by the robots — like data on which items are running low — could even help customers shop Walmart’s online offerings, as the store would have a more complete and accurate report of what exactly it has in stock.

Crecelius also said the main reaction associates and customers have to the robot is “natural curiosity.”

“People are just drawn to technology and what it does,” he said. “Our associates naturally get drawn to: ‘What is this going to provide, how can I use this in what I’m doing?'”

This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2019.

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