Walmart To Scale Number Of Stores To Serve As Local Fulfillment Centers
Walmart said it plans to scale the number of stores that will also serve as local fulfillment centers, noting that its customers love the speed and convenience of pickup and delivery.
According to the retail giant, dozens of stores will become local fulfilment centers, with many more to come later. A portion of these stores will be converted into automated warehouses.
A local fulfillment center or LFC is a modular warehouse that is built within or added to, a store. In addition to fresh and frozen items, LFCs can store thousands of the items that customers want most, ranging from consumables to electronics.
Walmart piloted its first local fulfillment center in Salem, New Hampshire, in late 2019. The company adopted the use of high-tech systems at the fulfillment center for picking up and packing online grocery orders.
Walmart noted the technology-enabled it to pick and complete more orders. In addition, the system enabled faster fulfillment as well as greater efficiency.
Instead of relying on associates, automated bots will retrieve the items required by customers from within the fulfillment center. These items will then be brought to a picking workstation and the orders will be assembled with speed.
While the system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper will handpick fresh items like produce, meat and seafood, and large general merchandise from the sales floor.
Once the order is collected, the system stores it until it is ready for pickup. Walmart noted that the whole process takes only a few minutes from the time the order is placed to the time it is ready for a customer or delivery driver to collect.
Walmart is building local fulfillment centers with various technology partners, including Alert Innovation, Dematic, and Fabric. The company will test different configurations with these technology partners.
In some locations, Walmart will add on fulfillment centers to its stores, while the fulfillment centers will sit inside the existing store footprint at other stores.
The company will also add automated pickup points in some stores, enabling allows customers and delivery drivers to drive up, scan a code and grab their order.
In May 2020, Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon predicted that pickup and home delivery will now become the “new normal” as the retail industry will change significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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