Walmart’s new Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) store is what some are calling a peek into Retail of the Future. This clearly piqued our interest, so we decided to go see it for ourselves. Being retail (and food) obsessed, we couldn’t miss to opportunity to explore the new technology in action.
Armed with AI technology, including cameras and interactive displays, the new WalmartIRL is capable of monitoring inventory levels and streamlining replenishment needs. This offers up more accurate inventory management, more efficient restocking time and allows Walmart team members to provide better customer service.
Much of the store has the familiar areas we know of a Walmart Neighborhood Market. The checkout area and the long aisles of product are the same, so it’s not overwhelming in that you’re learning a new way of shopping. But you are surrounded by cameras. You see them in every aisle. You can’t miss them. So our question is, “How does that make the shopper feel?”
The data center looks like something you would see in a sci-fi movie, glowing blue and behind glass. According to Walmart, the “hardware is connected by enough cabling to scale Mt. Everest five times and enough processing power to download three years’ worth of music (27,000 hours) each second.” So it’s a powerful, and pricy, data processing tool.
We can see the benefit to this new AI enabled experience. Shoppers can be confident that their items will be in stock and on the shelf when they need it. That’s really offering a new type of convenience to the customer in order to meet their high expectations. Today’s stores must be optimized and efficient to cater to the on-the-go customer who is often time strapped. We’ve come to the simple conclusion that a customer’s time is currency. And WalmartIRL is taking steps to show their value.