Alongside today’s digital acceleration, consumer expectation for diverse and rapid delivery solutions and real-time availability have placed greater strain on companies' operational capabilities. For retailers that lack the necessary operational network to meet these expectations, a frustrating online or delivery experience has become a point of friction for shoppers, leading to cart abandonment and lost dollars.
The so-called Market Fulfillment Centers from Walmart can store thousands of products, including frozen and fresh items. Modernizing the warehouse system will benefit customers, who can receive their orders faster, and store staff, who can manage their operations more effectively.
Instead of an associate walking the store to fulfill an order from the shelves of a Walmart location, automated bots instead retrieve the items from within the fulfillment center. The customer’s items are then brought to a picking workstation, where the order can be assembled with speed. While the automated warehouse system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper steps in to handpick fresh items like produce, meat and seafood, and other unique items like large general merchandise from the sales floor.
As the grocery experience transitions to online, retailers across the board are incorporating flexible fulfillment solutions powered by next generation technologies to meet the surge of ecommerce orders. Walmart has been redesigning its retail tech to support the number of digital orders coming to its stores. By scaling its market fulfillment center program, the retailer can test next-gen solutions like autonomous delivery and automated order fulfillment powered by machine learning.
Walmart customers have come to love the speed and convenience of pickup and delivery. The retailer’s market fulfillment centers will help unlock further the ability to expand and meet key audience needs. Technology partners for the market fulfillment center program include ecommerce and fulfillment solution vendors like Alert Innovation, Dematic and Fabric. With its partners, Walmart will be testing different orientations and add-on innovations to understand what fulfillment solutions work best across various retail environments.
Walmart’s biggest competitive advantage has always been its stores and general retail footprint. By leveraging this asset to create a strong foundation for the future, the retailer is activating an attractive long-term strategy to remain a powerful player for decades to come.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, The Grocery Store Playbook.