Walmart Inc. on Tuesday said it’s planning for about two-thirds of its stores to be serviced through automation in the massive retailer’s supply chain by the end of 2026.
"Through its extensive work, Walmart is reengineering its supply chain to fulfill customer needs with a more intelligent and connected omnichannel network that is enabled by greater use of data, more intelligent software and automation," the company said in a release. "The outcome improves in-stock inventory accuracy and flow whether customers shop in stores, pickup or have a delivery."
The company explained that, by the end of fiscal year 2026, roughly 65% of Walmart stores will be serviced by automation, about 55% of fulfillment center volume will move through automated facilities and average costs per unit could improve by approximately 20%.
Walmart said that as the changes take hold, employees’ roles will require less physical labor but will have higher pay. The company is the world’s largest retailer by sales and is the biggest employer in the U.S. private sector with about 1.7 million workers. It's unclear whether the company will lay off warehouse workers as it undertakes more extensive automation of its processes.
"Over time, the company anticipates increased throughput per person, due to the automation while maintaining or even increasing its number of associates as new roles are created," Walmart said.
In recent years, Walmart has invested billions of dollars in technology for its online order facilities, including the acquisition of grocery robotics firm Alert Innovation and partnerships with companies like Knapp to streamline its processes. Those actions have cut the number of steps required for employees to process e-commerce orders from 12 to five.
"It all starts with our associates. We are a people-led, tech-powered omnichannel retailer," said Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon. "As it relates to being people-led, it’s about purpose, values, culture, opportunity and belonging. We serve our associates by creating opportunities. Opportunities that turn jobs into careers. We help bring dignity to work by enabling them to see how they’re serving others as part of a team and helping them achieve their potential."