Walmart testing new tech as store remodels continue

New technology being tested at area Walmart stores

The goal of Walmart's FAST Unloader is for workers to spend less time sorting deliveries in store backrooms.
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The goal of Walmart's FAST Unloader is for workers to spend less time sorting deliveries in store backrooms.

We’ve reported in the past about how the bots are coming to retail. Here’s another example.

Walmart’s new FAST Unloader, a system that scans and sorts items off trucks making deliveries to its stores, is being tested at Washington state stores including Auburn, Lakewood, Puyallup, Shelton, Spanaway, Mount Vernon and Yakima.

The goal, says Walmart, is for its workers to be able to spend more time on the sales floor and less time in the back room sorting inventory deliveries made to the store.

“Innovations and investments in Washington Walmart stores are a top priority in 2019,” according to Travis Bailey, Walmart regional general manager in the Pacific Northwest, in a release this week offering updates about the region’s stores.

Last year, stores saw the start of a $56 million push in the state to reinvest in its stores with remodels and technology, including stores in Lakewood, Bonney Lake and Tumwater, while Spanaway saw the state’s first Walmart Pickup Tower. The chain also launched online grocery delivery in the area, and its “Check Out With Me” app debuted over the holidays.

“Our customers have loved Check Out With Me,” said DeWayne Jensen, Puyallup Walmart store manager, in the release.

“Being able to skip the check-out line, have an associate ring up items with a handheld and print a customer’s receipt on the spot is helping our busy shoppers save time. We’re looking forward to providing this service in the store year-round.”

According to the retailer, more than 30 Washington stores now have grocery pickup and eight stores have a Pickup Tower. All Washington supercenters offer Check Out With Me, the Dotcom Store and handheld apps, store maps, third-party return to store and virtual reality training for associates.

Looking ahead for 2019, its Poulsbo store at 21200 Olhava Way NW and its Bellingham store at 4420 Meridian St. will see their grand reopenings in the spring.