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Big Boxes Turning to Task Automation

Across the retail landscape, more big boxes are relying on task automation to reduce labor expenditures and enable employees to interact directly with customers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Target says it plans to add cash-counting checkout machines to 500 stores this summer. The machines count customers’ cash, “but they also allow stores to digitally bank their cash and predict how much money is needed for each cashier’s shift,” the article says.

The Journal reports that Target employees who previously worked at checkouts will be assigned to other positions. This change presents “the opportunity to have those same team members spend even more time helping our shoppers,” a Target spokesperson says in the article.

Walmart is also relying on technology to free up employees’ time. The company will use robots in stores next year to review inventory to notify employees about items that are low in supply or out of stock.

Walmart is also examining ways to speed up inventory delivery to its stores, the article says. The company will install automatic conveyor belts in backrooms to facilitate the unloading of delivery trucks. The conveyor belts will cut the number of employees needed to unload a typical truck in half, from eight employees to just four.

The Journal reports this addition will allow Walmart to spend more money on “pickers,” employees who fulfill online orders and deliver those purchases to customers waiting in designated areas.

About Todd Taber

Todd is trends editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. He graduated from Indiana University where he majored in journalism and French. Throughout his career, he has aimed to highlight small businesses and their community value. He joined NRHA in 2017.

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