In the near future, cameras and sensors can almost immediately tell when bananas need to be replaced with fresh ones and when more cash registers need to be opened before long lines of customers.
In fierce competition with Amazon and other online retailers, Wal-Mart is trying to digitize its physical stores to manage them more effectively, control costs and make shopping experience more enjoyable.
On April 25, the retail giant opened a smart retail laboratory in a 50,000 square foot community market grocery store on Long Island. Thousands of cameras hanging from the ceiling, coupled with other technologies such as sensors on shelves, will monitor stores in real time so that their staff can quickly replenish products or solve other problems.
Mike Hanlahan, CEO and co-founder of Wal-Mart Intelligent Retail Laboratories and Jet.com, who bought Wal-Mart three years ago, said: “We really want to think of this store as an artificial intelligence factory, a place where we are making these products, experiences, tests and learning.”