Walmart announced a few days ago that it would lay off 2,000 staff members whose main task is to fulfill internet orders. The firm intends to automate around 65% of its stores during the next three years.
With the implementation of self-checkout, the automation of its online e-commerce market is another step in the continual march toward a human-less service industry. AI and robotics will eventually handle all service tasks.
The news of the automation was shared during the American retail giant’s annual investor conference in Tampa this year. To speed up the order fulfillment process at its e-commerce fulfillment centers, the $388 billion corporation is now investing extensively in automation.
The decision’s impact on layoffs at the biggest private employer in the country, which employs around 1.7 million people in the United States and another 60,000 workers internationally, remained unclear at press time.
Nonetheless, the company did say that the new policies would lead to a decline in the need for low-wage workers.
Walmart has spent billions on technology for its online order facilities, including acquiring the grocery robotics startup Alert Innovation and collaborating with businesses like Knapp to reduce the number of steps for staff to process e-commerce orders from twelve to five.
During the company’s results call in February, CEO Doug McMillon stated he was “very thrilled about the automation prospects we have.” Among their more than $15 billion in planned capital expenditures for 2018, Walmart intends to increase its investments in automation technology.
There are over 9.9 million job openings in the United States, compared to 5.9 million unemployed persons, as reported by a poll issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in February.
A nationwide raise in Walmart’s minimum wage to over $17.50 was announced earlier this year, and it was expected to go into effect with paychecks issued on March 2.