On April 25, 2019 Walmart announced the launch of its new smart store in Levittown, New York. The lab store is powered by artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled cameras, interactive displays and a massive data center and is designed to explore the possibilities AI can contribute to a unique real-world shopping environment. Walmart’s tech incubator Store No 8 has positioned the store within one of the company’s busiest locations.
Mike Hanrahan, CEO of Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) said, “We’ve got 50,000 square feet of real retail space. The scope of what we can do operationally is so exciting.” He said, “Technology enables us to understand so much more–in real time–about our business. When you combine all the information we’re gathering in IRL with Walmart’s 50-plus years of expertise in running stores, you can create really powerful experiences that improve the lives of both our customers and associates.”
IRL’s sensors, cameras and processors will help the team focus on is product inventory and availability, giving associates precise information on restocking shelves. The IRL team is starting with real, practical solutions like inventory alerts, making sure shopping carts are available and registers are open. “You can’t be overly enamored with the shiny object element of AI,” Hanrahan cautioned. “There are a lot of shiny objects out there that are doing things we think are unrealistic to scale and probably, long-term, not beneficial for the consumer,” he said.
As customers shop, they can interact with a number of educational displays. Small educational kiosks are interspersed throughout the store. A Welcome Center at the front end allows customers to dive deeper into technical specifications and common questions.