Called the 'Intelligent Retail Lab,' the 50,000 square-foot location serves as a testing ground for Walmart's latest tech innovations, like AI cameras that track inventory and interactive displays

In New York State, big-box retailer Walmart is testing out a futuristic concept store: A version of what its future brick-and-mortar locations could look like, the Intelligent Retail Lab features artificial intelligence, interactive displays and innovative customer service tech.

The concept, known as IRL for short, is not fully automated or a quick grab-and-go location: The store is fully staffed by human workers and is 50,000 square feet in size, containing over 30,000 items. The ceiling mounted with a fleet of cameras will not be watching the customers or their carts, but rather the inventory on the floor, which will make restocking a more streamlined process by AI tracking. This will allow Walmart associates the freedom to focus on store tasks other than restocking, such as operating the registers, helping customers on the floor and making sure shopping carts are corralled and available.

IRL was designed by Walmart’s tech incubator Store N8, responsible for many of the brand's innovative concepts, like Jetblack member-based personal concierge service. “Technology enables us to understand so much more—in real time—about our business. When you combine all the information we’re gathering in IRL with Walmart’s 50-plus years of expertise in running stores, you can create really powerful experiences that improve the lives of both our customers and associates,” says Mike Hanrahan, CEO of IRL.

Walmart

In New York State, big-box retailer Walmart is testing out a futuristic concept store: A version of what its future brick-and-mortar locations could look like, the Intelligent Retail Lab features artificial intelligence, interactive displays and innovative customer service tech.

The concept, known as IRL for short, is not fully automated or a quick grab-and-go location: The store is fully staffed by human workers and is 50,000 square feet in size, containing over 30,000 items. The ceiling mounted with a fleet of cameras will not be watching the customers or their carts, but rather the inventory on the floor, which will make restocking a more streamlined process by AI tracking. This will allow Walmart associates the freedom to focus on store tasks other than restocking, such as operating the registers, helping customers on the floor and making sure shopping carts are corralled and available.