Walmart intensifies automated store distribution

Walmart intensifies automated store distribution

As Walmart dives deeper into building the store, the retailer redesigned its retail technology to support this new supply chain model.

The retailer has increased the number of digital orders coming from its stores by 170% in the past year, leading it to scale its automated market fulfillment centers, leverage machine learning, and test standalone delivery, it said in a recent report. post online.

To support this, Walmart has built a technology platform that powers its last mile delivery ecosystem. Independent of supply and demand and built around its own market, the platform uses automation and machine learning to transform an “almost infinite” number of factors into usable data.

“Our new platform is doing groundbreaking things,” explained Srini Venkatesan, EVP at Walmart Global Tech. “With all these disparate delivery points in some sense ‘communicating’ with each other, we can plan replenishment at a shorter cycle, obtain inventory information in near real time, and ultimately react to customer demand. It all adds up to a single stellar shopping experience for Walmart customers. “

Market fulfillment centers

Walmart said it increased its in-store pickup and delivery capacity by 20% last year and plans to increase it by another 35% this year.

“As we continue to improve store operations, it is clearer than ever why our massive store footprint is the silent, even unexpected, advantage to drive change,” said TJ Stallbaumer, Walmart Corporate Affairs.

The next stage in Walmart’s store integration and evolution is to add more market distribution centers to stores. Market distribution centers are a compact, modular warehouse built inside or added to a store, which, in addition to fresh and frozen items, can store thousands of items.

Walmart explains: “Instead of an associate walking into the store to fulfill an order from our shelves, the automated robots retrieve the items from within the fulfillment center. The items are then taken to a picking station, where the order can be placed. quickly assembled.

“We have always said that personal shoppers are the secret of our collection and delivery success, and this remains true. So while the system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper manually selects fresh items such as food, meat. and seafood and large products in general merchandise from the point of sale. Once the order has been collected, the system stores it until it is ready for collection. The whole process can only take a few minutes from the moment the order is placed the moment it is ready for the customer or the courier to collect. “

Walmart began piloting its first market fulfillment center in Salem, NH in 2019 and recently announced that it is planning dozens of locations, with many more on the way. Automated collection points will also be added in some stores.

With 4,700 Walmart stores across the country, located just 10 miles from 90 percent of the US population, Stallbaumer said Walmart is in the “unique position” to make these brick and mortar locations invaluable parts of its supply chain.

Autonomous delivery

Walmart also tested drones and autonomous vehicles to fulfill the order in the last mile. Last November, Walmart began offering residential delivery of consumer goods by drones from its first “Hub” airport in Farmington, Ark. In the same month, Walmart became the first retailer to operate a completely driverless “half-mile” delivery route. Walmart uses Gatik’s autonomous vehicles to deliver items between stores to reduce delivery times and limit out-of-stock.

“As we continue to create new delivery options for customers and members and new features for Walmart GoLocal customers, we are adding density to the last mile,” said Tom Ward, chief e-commerce officer, Walmart US. more opportunities for drivers and more opportunities translate to faster speed. That means we can deliver their items to customers and customers even faster, all while helping to reduce costs. It’s a happy cycle. “

Walmart, headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., Operates approximately 10,500 stores with 48 banners in 24 countries and e-commerce websites, employing over 2.2 million employees worldwide. Walmart US is # 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the best food and supplies retailers in North America.

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