Pushing heavy carts across Walmart stores might soon be a thing of past.
The retail giant is working on developing smart shopping carts that are capable of helping customers look for items on their shopping list. The robotic shopping carts would also save Walmart customers the trouble of pushing them around the store and into the parking lot, Bloomberg reported.
Walmart is reportedly working with Five Elements Robotics, a New Jersey-based company to develop the new variety of carts. At the 2016 Bloomberg Technology Conference, the robotics company’s Founder and CEO Wendy Roberts said that these next-generation carts are a new opportunity for robotics companies as the brick-and-mortar space undergoes transformation to provide the ease online eCommerce players like Amazon provide.
Walmart’s interest in transforming its brick-and-mortar space comes against slowing in-store sales. The company’s profits are expected to drop up to 12 percent in 2016 as it spends more on paying higher wages and technology, according to Bloomberg.
The company is also looking to rejigger its business outside stores. The Arkansas-based retailer recently announced that it was six to nine months away from using drones inside its warehouses to speed up its operation. With its quickly advancing drone program, the company is better positioning itself against Amazon, an eCommerce behemoth, which has quickly eaten into the market share of many physical retailers.
To improve upon its delivery, Walmart is experimenting and rolling out various services. It has recently developed a new checkout process that lets customers inside its store to scan and buy products on their smartphone and skip the checkout line. In certain cities it is partnering with ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to extend on-demand grocery delivery.
All these new projects have, of course, come at a big investment. The company reportedly spent $10.5 billion on information technology in 2015, topping the list of IDC’s biggest technology spenders.