Walmart Canada Will Use AI to Help Keep Shelves Stocked

The Canadian subsidiary of Walmart will use cameras to monitor inventory on shelves and alert employees when stock is running low.
a close up of a a "walmart" logo
  • Walmart Canada will use artificial intelligence (AI) to more accurately detect when a product is running low. 
  • The retailer is teaming up with Focal Systems after a 70-store pilot program.
  • Retailers continue to look to AI tools to streamline online and in-person shopping experiences.  

Walmart Canada will use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to determine more accurately and quickly when a product is out of stock, the retailer said in a news release.

The Canadian subsidiary is deploying technology from Focal Systems, a U.S.-based retail automation services provider. Walmart Canada had previously rolled out the service to 70 stores as part of a pilot program, Walmart Canada said.

The new system uses cameras that automatically detect when a product is out of stock or running low on availability. The retailer said the technology would be beneficial in several product areas such as grocery, pets, health and beauty, frozen foods and dairy. Additionally, the new tech will be helpful to both in-store and omnichannel shoppers, Walmart Canada said.

"This leading-edge technology provides real-time, automated alerts for replenishment in key priority areas within our stores,” said Robin DeMers, director of store optimization at Walmart Canada. “It also empowers our associates with cool tech that makes a big difference in the way they are able to work and provide the best possible customer experience.”

The AI will be integrated into its existing inventory systems, according to the retailer. The cameras are pointed directly at store shelves and scan the shelves at predetermined intervals. The system then alerts Walmart employees if and when a product is running low. 

Retailers continue to adopt AI technologies to improve both their brick-and-mortar and omnichannel shopping experiences. 

  • Walmart in a 2021 blog post explained how it used AI technology to help determine how to substitute a product in a customer’s online order when a product ordered was out of stock in the store, according to a Retail Leader report.
  • Sephora last year partnered with retail planning solutions provider RELEX Solutions to similarly use AI to improve the beauty retailer’s inventory turnover. The AI tools were also expected to help Sephora improve the management of its promotions, slow-moving products, the introduction of new products and the ramping down of existing products, RELEX Solutions said. 
  • Kroger in March announced a partnership with Nvidia that would build a “state-of-the-art AI lab” to work on projects to help further the grocery giant’s freshness initiatives, shopping logistics, and shopping experiences, the companies said in a joint release. The companies aimed to develop AI solutions to identify early indicators that food was losing its freshness.
  • JCPenney in September announced it would use AI as part of its renewed beauty efforts. The technology implemented enables JCPenney shoppers to get custom skin care product recommendations and allows them to virtually try on makeup after uploading a selfie to the retailer’s website.