Walmart Tests Out the “Future of Retail” in Long Island Store

There’s no time for the future of retail like the present. That is the motto at Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, a live experiment in AI-driven shopping experiences that is now open to the public at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, NY.

Equipped with sensors, cameras, and processors, the Levittown store can collect reams of data in real-time, informing associates immediately when inventory needs to be replenished and likely providing more long-term feedback on which products are most successful and even what time they tend to sell.

Walmart says it is intentionally focusing on down-to-earth applications of an AI-driven store for now. It’s also being transparent with customers about the applications and deployment of the technology. The company is setting up information stations in the store so that curious patrons can explore the tech behind the store of the future.

It’s not all rosy news for the application of AI in retail this week. Apple is facing a $1 billion lawsuit for using facial recognition software that misidentified an African-American 18-year-old as a thief in its brick-and-mortar stores, leading to his arrest. Fellow tech power player Amazon’s facial recognition software has come under fire from the ACLU and other critics for struggling to correctly identify the faces of people of color.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Follow him on Twitter @joe_zappa, and shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.

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