Alert Innovation Inc. yesterday announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Walmart Inc. Alert Innovation has customized its e-grocery automation technology for Walmart's market fulfillment centers, or MFCs, since 2016.
“I am proud that Alert Innovation is one of the most innovative and capable automation companies in operation today,” said John Lert, founder and executive chairman of Alert Innovation. “Our mission to improve people’s lives through innovation will now be dedicated to Walmart customers and associates, which is an inspiring undertaking.”
Walmart did not specify how much it paid for Alert Innovation.
Alphabot and Novastore designed to facilitate fulfillment
Alert Innovation said its Alphabot system uses patented omnidirectional robots in a temperature-controlled system for fresh, efficient, and high-quality grocery fulfillment. Founded in 2016, the Andover, Mass.-based company said it has filed more than 50 patent applications to help relieve grocers from labor-intensive and expensive manual picking.
Alert Innovation began piloting Alphabot in Walmart's first MFC in Salem, N.H., in 2019.
“We will continue leveraging our development, manufacturing and deployment expertise to enable Walmart to build and scale MFC technology in its stores,” stated Fritz Morgan, CEO of Alert Innovation. “With Walmart, we have the opportunity to positively impact millions of lives through the Alphabot system.”
In addition, Alert Innovation said it has designed the Novastore concept that uses Alphabot to deliver “a dynamic and efficient shopping experience.”
Walmart to retain Alert Innovation brand
Walmart said that about 230 million customers and members visit more than 10,500 of its stores and e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries each week. With fiscal year 2022 revenue of $573 billion, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company has approximately 2.3 million employees worldwide.
“We are committed to exceeding customer expectations and serving them in new ways, whether it’s in a store, curbside, or at their home,” said David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation at Walmart U.S.
“Bringing the best of Alert’s technology and capabilities in-house will enable us to reach more customers quicker by deploying MFCs with greater speed, providing both an unmatched shopping experience and a competitive advantage in omnichannel fulfillment,” he added.
Alert Innovation said it will continue to operate under the Alert Innovation brand based in the Boston area.
Walmart rival Amazon.com Inc. acquired Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics) for $775 million in 2012, encouraging the growth of mobile robot providers to serve the rest of the industry. Since Alert Innovation a leading provider of automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) for the grocery industry, it remains to be seen how its acquisition will affect the micro-fulfillment market.
The global market for micro-fulfillment centers could be worth about $36 billion by 2030, according to Research and Markets.
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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