Centers may also reduce traffic in store aisles because it would limit the number of Walmart employees who collect inventory directly from the store floor to fulfill online orders. Busy lanes is a growing problem for stores as online shopping accelerates, and retail analysts said these automated fulfillment centers are helping to solve that challenge.
Walmart’s plan comes as online demand increases in the pandemic. Walmart’s online sales, which include pickup and delivery, were up 79% in the three months ending October 31 compared to the same period last year. In the previous quarter, online sales grew 97% compared to the previous year.
The company hopes that adding these new fulfillment centers will allow stores to process more orders and process them at a faster pace.
Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product at Walmart in the United States, said in a call to reporters Tuesday that the centers will enable Walmart to cater to sidewalk transfers and home deliveries within an hour.
Walmart isn’t the only large grocery chain that tests these small centers in its stores. Albertsons and Stop & Shop also test them in their own stores.