Walmart has announced dozens of its sites will soon serve not only as stores but as local fulfillment centers as well. Built within or added to a store, each of the centers is a compact, modular warehouse that can store thousands of items.
Automated bots will retrieve items from within the fulfillment center and take them to a picking workstation. A “personal shopper” will handpick fresh items, such as produce, meat, and seafood, and large general merchandise from the sales floor. Then, all the items making up the order will be assembled at the picking workstation. The entire process can take as little as a few minutes from the time the order is placed to the time it’s ready for a customer or delivery driver to pick up. (Some stores will have automated pickup points, which allow customers and delivery drivers to drive up, scan a code, get their order, and go.)
The first Walmart local fulfillment center opened in Salem, N.H. in late 2019. The new centers will built with the help of a variety of technology partners, including Alert Innovation, Dematic, and Fabric. Different orientations and add-on innovations will be tested to determine what works best at each location.
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