announced plans early Wednesday to expand its local fulfillment centers to dozens of new stores.
The local fulfillment centers will operate in stores or in additional spaces built onto stores. The automated facilities will feature robots that help Walmart associates pick and pack orders for delivery or in-store pickup.
In a call with media, Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product for Walmart U.S., did not give specifics about how many of these local fulfillment centers would ultimately be built or provide other efficiency metrics, like time saved. Some orders can be prepared in “just a few minutes from the time the order is placed,” he said in a post on the company blog.
Walmart began piloting these facilities in 2019 in Salem, N.H.
Rather than store associates walking store aisles in search of items, machines zip across the mini-fulfillment center pulling merchandise. This frees up workers to pick grocery items like produce and meat, as well as large merchandise on a customer’s shopping list.
Alert Innovation worked with Walmart on the pilot of the automated fulfillment center. Walmart will continue to work with that company, as well as Fabric and Dematic on the new facilities. These companies will also help Walmart analyze new innovations and test features.
has discussed the benefits of in-store pickup and speedy fulfillment extensively during its recent earnings reports.
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While Walmart offered few metrics on the success for its local fulfillment centers so far, Ward said during the media call that the retail giant has increased the number of slots for in-store pickup and other fulfillment options by 40%.
The coronavirus pandemic has sparked increased e-commerce, with many customers opting for either home delivery or store pickup rather shopping in stores.
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