According to Walmart, which is the largest private employer in the world, about 65% of its stores will be served by automation in the next five years and artificial intelligence, already present in its stores, is not stealing jobs . However, it has recently made some changes to salaries. All the details
At Walmart, one of the latest and most promising hires is artificial intelligence. The largest private employer in the world and leader in US large-scale retail trade has in fact invested billions in innovation to make its stores and supply chains more efficient, producing major changes in the tasks of its employees, starting from those in sales. retail, which have already been collaborating with AI in everyday tasks for some time.
Here's how this coexistence is going and what the multinational's forecasts are for the future.
THE ADVANTAGES OF AI IN WALMART STORES
As reported by Quartz , in New Jersey, in the Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus, around 750 employees have been interacting with artificial intelligence daily for a few years.
Using an AI app and augmented reality, retail workers quickly and remotely assess what needs to be replenished, reducing trips across store aisles and into the warehouse. This system, according to Walmart, reduces the time it takes workers to manage backroom inventory by a third.
The AI also suggests the best placement of products on shelves while, Quartz says, a new feature in development will soon prioritize workers' tasks based on urgency.
But AI can also be of help to customers who, for example, need to know where a product is, by asking an employee, they can receive the information from the technology, which – according to Walmart – is often questioned . In fact, its employees ask the app a total of over 600,000 questions per week on average.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF WORK
One of Walmart's vice presidents, Ivy Barney, speaking about the Secaucus store, which employs about 740 workers, said that AI innovations have not led to anyone being fired, but that "their work is different."
Retail workers' jobs, Quartz says, have evolved into new roles, including "digital shopper" and "host" for cashierless checkouts, with additional new roles in receiving and other back-of-store operations.
WALMART'S PREDICTIONS ON AI
This revolution, for Walmart, which employs 2.1 million retail workers worldwide, will lead to approximately 65% of its stores being served by automation in the next five years.
THE SHADOWS OF AI
But although in some respects the introduction and expansion of AI in the world of work is positive, its economic and social impact is still uncertain. In fact, although Walmart did not fire anyone in the Secaucus case, about a month ago theWall Street Journal wrote that it was paying some new hires less than three months earlier.
Also according to the US newspaper, in mid-July the multinational changed its salary structure for hourly workers, who "will earn the lowest possible hourly wage within the store".
“The retailer's move – writes the WSJ – suggests that the stress companies are facing in finding staff is easing and that they must find ways to compensate for the salary increases”.
However, Quartz – reporting data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – notes that even as new technologies are changing the nature of retail work, US employment in the sector is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/economia/la-grande-scommessa-di-walmart-intelligenza-artificiale/ on Tue, 10 Oct 2023 11:45:59 +0000.