Walmart expands fulfillment centers for faster online grocery delivery with new automated system




Online grocery  delivery had a big spike during the Corona virus and Walmart believes it will continue to be popular after the pandemic. Dozens of Walmart centers will be converted with high-tech systems for online orders as demand ramps up past the pandemic.

Walmart stores will start converting sections of the store with automated systems to quickly pick and pack shoppers grocery orders from its website. Walmart is taking an aggressive stance in order to compete with other online grocery delivery facilities and keep costs low. The use of the technology will allow customers more opportunities to get online same day delivery from electronics, clothing, food and personal care items.

Walmart reported a 74% increase in U.S. online sales for the quarter that ended April 30, and a 10% increase in same store sales for the same period. Grocery sales account for 56% of Walmart’s total U.S. revenue.

The technology that Walmart will use will involve robots that will retrieve items such as grocery and electronics and send an employee to a picking station to assemble the items for  packing and shipping. Walmart will still  have physical employees  retrieve certain sensitive items like chilled groceries such as produce  to help assemble for packing.

Developed specially for Walmart by startup Alert Innovation, Alphabot helps to enable quicker, more efficient order picking. The system operates inside a 20,000-square-foot warehouse-style space, using autonomous carts to retrieve ambient, refrigerated and frozen items ordered for online grocery. After it retrieves them, Alphabot delivers the products to a workstation, where a Walmart associate checks, bags and delivers the final order.

As the pickup and delivery process works today, associates select items from the sales floor for customers, package them and then deliver them. While associates will continue to pick produce and other fresh items by hand, Alphabot will help make the retrieval process for all other items easier and faster.

Walmart+ perk customers can pay $98 annually, or $12.95 monthly, for unlimited grocery deliveries, and allows members to have free grocery delivery. The service competes with Amazon Prime. Online delivery will still be immensely popular even when people start going back to the stores as pandemic fears ease.

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