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Walmart picks humans over robots, should we all be saying no to robots and AI?

Robots and AI are not the boogeymen they once were. But this story from Walmart once again brings to the fore how we integrate robots and AI into our companies and our day-to-day lives as digital sales and marketing professionals.

Walmart picks humans over robots, should we all be saying no to robots and AI? Blog Feature

Karisa Egan

Director of Digital Sales and Marketing Coaching, 5+ Years of Client Success and Project Management

November 12th, 2020 min read

On November 2, Walmart announced they’ll be ending their contract with Bossa Nova. The company that had been using Bossa Nova robots to scan shelves for restocking in 500 of their retail stores. Now, Walmart has decided that humans could do the job just as well as the robots.

It’s not 100% clear why Walmart is ending its contract now, though it’s believed that the pandemic may be a major reason. United States Chief Executive John Furere has also said he worries about what customers would think seeing robots around the company’s stores.

🔎 Related: Don't fear the SEO robots with Franco Valentino

While they are pulling the robots from the stores a Walmart spokeswoman did say “we learned a lot about how technology can assist associates, make jobs easier, and provide a better customer experience.” Confirming that the endeavor with Bossa Nova was not a total loss and stating that:

“We will continue testing new technologies and investing in our own processes and apps to best understand and track our inventory and help move products to our shelves as quickly as we can.”

For years, it’s been said that robots will be taking over jobs. It was claimed that they’d cost less, be easier to deal with, and could do the job much faster than humans. With Walmart ending its contract, it shows that these claims may not be as dramatic as we once thought.

How we think about the use of robots and AI with our companies (and our marketing)

While robots taking over may not be as big of a concern as we once thought it still is important, especially in the marketing space, to make sure that we’re prepared for technology to play a factor in our lives.

While it’s not technically a robot doing your job, AI is actually a great resource for those in marketing to make informed decisions. For example, you can use AI to create more personalized email content by having it seamlessly pull data on content the user has read and what pages they’ve visited on your site.

In another case, content creators have found ways to leverage AI, not to do their work entirely, but rather to help supplement their work with lower-level research tasks, so they're not starting with an entirely blank page with their writing.

So, again, the robots aren't taking over in that case, but rather freeing up time so content marketing professionals and writers can get into the higher-value content creation tasks faster.

🔎 Related: Debunking the myth and stigma of AI and machines taking over

Another example of technology working in marketing's favor is using AR to shop online. Companies like Amazon and Magnolia allow users to visualize products in their own homes before purchasing.

With Walmart moving back to humans over robots it’s clear that the jump in technology won’t be as dramatic as initially believed, but don’t be afraid to utilize technology that can help make a better experience for both you and your customers.

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