Business Insider reports on a new Walmart store in Levittown, New York, on Long Island, that it described as an Intelligent Retail Lab that “is focused on inventory and availability,” using technology to enable what it hopes will “lead to less friction in the shopping experience, and customers will find the item they need on the shelf more often than not, and it will be more efficient to keep that experience consistent.”

The store is a modified Neighborhood Market format, about 50,000 square feet in size, and will, for example, “use a combination of both cameras and analytics to trigger out-of-stock alerts for employees when a customer takes the last item, so the store can quickly restock … Walmart is also focusing on other ‘real, practical solutions,’ according to the company's blog post, like keeping shopping carts stocked and the right amount of registers open, and not getting too ahead of itself.”

"We think it's something our associates will be excited about," says Mike Hanrahan, CEO of IRL. "The technology has been built to improve associates' jobs, to make their jobs more interesting, to help them alleviate some of the mundane tasks. AI can enhance their skill set in a very rapidly changing world.” But, he cautions, "You can't be overly enamored with the shiny object element of AI. There are a lot of shiny objects out there that are doing things we think are unrealistic to scale and probably, long-term, not beneficial for the consumer.”

KC's View: Stores that can use technology that evolves and learns to make work easier for associates and shopping easier for customers make a lot of sense, especially, in my view, if they are able to be part of a narrative that is more empowering, educating people about what is in the store, where it comes from, and how it fits into and affects their lives and health.

You know. Just simple stuff like that.