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 Amazon.com 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.

No subscription? You're missing out.

Join the high-powered community of tech and business leaders who rely on The Information's original news and in-depth reporting.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear what the company is planning for Whole Foods. The e-commerce giant has already installed Amazon Lockers at some Whole Foods locations, and executives have said publicly that they eventually expect more coordination between Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery service. Bloomberg reported in June that Amazon could be considering building an automated network of grocery-specific warehouses at one million square feet each.

4 total comments
Philip I. Thomas, Babar Khan Javed and 1 other commented on this article.
Read comments from top tech and industry leaders
Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
Founding Partner, Eight
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
CEO, Brandless
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
Adam D'Angelo
Adam D'Angelo
CEO, Quora
Brit Morin
Brit Morin
Founder & CEO, Brit + CO
Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz
Co-Founder, Asana
Christina Miller
Christina Miller
President & General Manager, Turner
Max Levchin
Max Levchin
CEO, Affirm
Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri
Director of Product, Facebook
Alex Mather
Alex Mather
The Athletic
Martha Josephson
Martha Josephson
Partner, Egon Zehnder
James Murdoch
James Murdoch
Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox
Andrew Kortina
Andrew Kortina
Founder, Venmo
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
Co-Founder & CEO, Mailchimp
Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
Login or Subscribe to follow the discussions happening here and real-time in our   Slack Community.
“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.”