Walmart Stops Using Robots for Inventory Management

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. terminate / ˈtɜr məˌneɪt / (v) – to cause something to end

    They had to terminate the program due to an emergency.

  2. in favor of (something) / ɪn ˈfeɪ vər əv / (idiom) – in support of or to the advantage of something

    The judges decided in favor of the third contestant.

  3. redundant / rɪˈdʌn dənt / (adj) – not necessary or useful because it is repetitive

    My editor wants me to cut “beautiful” from my description of the venue because it’s redundant. I had already used “attractive.”

  4. eye / / (v) – to view with interest

    Jenna decided to finally buy the dress that she’s been eyeing for weeks.

  5. proposition / ˌprɒp əˈzɪʃ ən / (n) – an offer or plan presented for a person or organization to consider

    Our supervisor is open to propositions for the next ad campaign.


Read the text below.

American retail company Walmart has announced that it will stop using robots in the 500 stores where the machines are deployed.

Walmart chose to terminate its five-year partnership with Bossa Nova Robotics after only three years. Since 2017, Bossa Nova had been providing shelf-scanning robots to assist the retail company’s employees and help make their jobs easier.

Walmart decided to pull out all robots in favor of human employees because the employees can deliver the same satisfactory performance as the machines, and some customers might not like seeing robots working in the stores.

Walmart stated that its decision about the contract with Bossa Nova was final.  The company explained that the decision was prompted by an observation during the pandemic that more human employees were working in the aisles to collect online orders. These employees, Walmart observed, could do the inventory at the same time, so using the robots to do the job was redundant.

However, Walmart intends to explore other ideas and concepts to help improve service in its stores. The company is eyeing new technologies to use in its stores. It is also planning to invest in its own procedures and apps to monitor inventory and restock store shelves. Walmart also stated that it was open to propositions for new technology and partnerships in the future.

The end of the contract with Walmart severely impacted Bossa Nova and resulted in the company laying off half of its employees. Walmart’s decision was another blow to the company that had already had to narrow down its work force and operations due to the global health crisis.

Despite Bossa Nova’s current situation, co-founder Sarjoun Skaff expressed confidence in the quality of the company’s technology and claimed that it is one of the best in the retail industry. He added that Bossa Nova will continue to use the company’s technology to serve its current clients, partners, and associates in retail and other fields.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were a Walmart employee, how would you feel about the company’s decision? Explain.
• Do you think Walmart should reconsider its decision after learning how Bossa Nova was affected by it? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think routine tasks should be automated? Why or why not?
• Which of your tasks at work or at home do you wish were done by a robot (e.g. answering emails, folding laundry)? Explain.