Posts tagged with "Cost savings"

Walmart rolls out robotic ‘smart assistants’ at its locations nationwide

April 10, 2019

Every hero needs a sidekick: Think of the selfless contributions of R2D2 of Star Wars fame, Optimus Prime of the Transformers superhero franchise, and Robot from Lost in Space.

And now, Walmart believes, the stockroom, janitorial, sales, and front-end associates at its discount stores could use a little robotic help, too. So, as of April 9, the largest U.S. retailer has announced that it will be putting automated helpers at its locations nationwide.

“Smart assistants”—which is what the retailer has dubbed its automated staff—“have huge potential to make busy stores run more smoothly,” Walmart said in a press release this week.

Indeed, Walmart has been pioneering new technologies to minimize the time each associate spends on the more mundane and repetitive tasks—such as cleaning floors or checking shelf inventory. This gives associates more of an opportunity to serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor.

Throughout the year 2018, pilot tests of these technologies have been well-received. “But it’s not enough to have these cutting-edge systems in just a few locations,” the company says.” That’s why additional technologies are coming soon to stores across America.”

And, Walmart promises, “We’re going big.”

Among the new additions will be:

  • 300 additional shelf scanners, aka “Auto-S”: This technology scans items on store shelves to help ensure availability, correct shelf location, and price accuracy.
  • 1,200 FAST unloadersWorking with the shelf scanner, the FAST unloader automatically scans and sorts items unloaded from trucks, based on priority and department. This allows associates to move inventory from the back room to the sales floor more quickly.
  • 900 pickup towers: When a customer places an order online and selects for an in-store pickup, an associate loads the ordered item into a pickup tower. The customer then receives a notification via email that the item is available from the pickup tower; which works like a giant vending machine to retrieve and unload the purchase.

That’s a lot of extra help for associates—and the staff is enthusiastic. According to SVP of Central Operations for Walmart U.S. John Crecelius, “Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable, and manual.

“It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail.”

Research contact: @Walmart

Now, patient ‘screening’ involves smartphones

March 13, 2018

More than half (54%) of U.S. consumers say that they are “comfortable” contacting their doctors digitally, and that they already have begun to use available technologies, based on findings of a Future of Health survey released by Ernst & Young on March 7.

The main reason for their interest? Less time waiting to for a medical consultation (61%). In addition, cost savings comes in a close second (55%).

The 2,455 adults who responded to the nationwide survey expressed an interest in using technology such as at-home diagnostic testing (36%), information sharing via smartphone (33%) and video consultation (21%).

Similarly, the report indicates widespread agreement among physicians (70%) that digital technologies and data sharing will contribute effectively to the overall well-being of the population.

More than four in five medical professionals (83%) believe that increased consumer and patient-generated data from connected devices would benefit the overall quality of care and offer more personalized care plans.

Two-thirds (66%) also indicate that increased digital technologies would reduce the burden on the healthcare system and its associated costs; and 64% think it would help reduce the burden on doctors and nurses and have a positive impact on the critical issue of burnout.

“The health sector today is ripe for disruption, and these findings reinforce the need for organizations to rethink how and where care is delivered to consumers,” said Ernst & Young’s U.S. Health Leader Jacques Mulder, adding, “Both consumers and physicians are empowered by emerging technology and are hungry for better, more connected experiences. This demand paves the way for nontraditional players to make an impact on the industry, and is another indicator that health in entering an era of convergence.”

The report also indicated that creating incentives for data sharing is a critical piece of the puzzle. While only 26% of consumers are interested in sharing lifestyle information with their physicians, those numbers make a big jump when you add-in incentives. For example, despite hesitation in sharing dietary and exercise information, 26% of respondents indicated that the ability to receive tailored diet and exercise plans would also encourage engagement with digital technology.

Research contact: @MulderHealth