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Walmart and Amazon Vie to Solve Retail Problem: What’s on the Shelf

If, while visiting a store this holiday weekend, you pick up an item and then discard it in a different aisle, you’ve contributed to a big problem for the retailer. That is the challenge of tracking its inventory accurately. It’s a particular issue for delivery services like Instacart, which fulfill online orders from stock in retail outlets, rather than central warehouses.

It’s an issue that will have to figure out with Whole Foods, particularly if the e-commerce giant decides to fulfill online food delivery orders at least partly from the grocery chain’s stores, as some expect. While some, like Walmart, are trying new tactics to improve management, Amazon may be best positioned to solve the problem given its development work on a store that doesn’t have checkouts, Amazon Go.

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“Because you have e-commerce shoppers picking orders off the shelves and you have the in-store customer picking items off the shelves, it becomes very hard to control inventory.”