Walmart’s new AI solution keeps shelves stocked

The AI for on-shelf availability computer vision system is the latest in the retailer's digital overhaul

September 19, 2022

1 Min Read

Walmart Canada is introducing a computer vision system to stores across the country, designed to identify low stock on shelves and trigger a replenishment alert.

The AI-based system was tested at 70 of the retailer’s Canadian stores, where computer vision cameras were placed in popular areas of the store where they scanned the shelves automatically at predetermined intervals. Following the pilot’s success, the system will now be deployed at all of the retailer’s Canadian locations. The news marks one of the first deployments of AI for on-shelf availability in Canada’s retail industry. 

The system, designed by Focal Systems, has a series of cameras that detect low or missing stock items and is being integrated into Walmart’s existing inventory systems. An automated alert system is also being set up to tell staff when items need replenishing.

“We know it can be disappointing for customers when we don’t have products they want available on our shelves,” said Robin DeMers, Walmart director of store optimization. “That’s why we initiated this pilot using technology from Focal Systems that takes the guesswork out of knowing when a product is out of stock.” 

“Walmart is driving this industry forward in AI-adoption and retail automation, challenging the status-quo on availability, customer experience, and employee satisfaction,” said Francois Chaubard, Focal Systems CEO. 

The rollout is the latest in a series of tech deployments from Walmart, with the retailer investing in digital tools such as roaming curbside robots, ring scanners to help workers pack and scan grocery orders, and delivery drones in this year alone.

This article first appeared in sister publication IoT World Today.

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