Walmart Taps Roaming Robots to Serve Curbside Pickup Customers
Walmart has begun testing robotic vending machines at a store near its headquarters, with the autonomous delivery robots roaming the parking lot to offer snacks and beverages to those waiting for curbside pickup.
The robots, by Silicon Valley startup Tortoise, are designed to act like automated vending machines that drive themselves to customers’ vehicles, delivering products once they have tapped and paid with their card.
The robots are being tested at “store 100” near Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the retailer has so far been using these robots to sell small, nonessential items such as chocolate and beef jerky to shoppers waiting to collect online orders.
With the rise of online retail, companies are seeing a drop in revenue from impulse buys, something that Tortoise hopes its robotic solutions can help to counter.
Retailers in a variety of industries are increasingly harnessing digital and automated tools to help make the consumer experience faster and contactless, as well as meet ongoing labor shortages and costs.
Tortoise entered the market in 2019 with its robotic sidewalk delivery service envisioned as an alternative for e-scooters, though a change in market landscape led it to redirect its business to vending machine robots.
The robots are also being used by sports and conference venues to sell snacks and drinks to visitors with a focus on cutting labor costs and ensuring contactless interactions when possible.