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Walmart will use robots to turn stores into automated fulfillment centers

2021-01-27 18:21 by
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Walmart is adding more stores, in dozens of locations, that double as local fulfillment centers for delivery and pickup orders, the company said Wednesday.

A local fulfillment center (LFC) is described as a "compact, modular warehouse built within, or added to, a store." Unlike the main stores, these centers are staffed by robots who are tasked with bringing items to picking workstations, where an associate can add them to an order much more quickly than if they had gone around locating the items themselves.

Walmart is also teaming up with partners to test new technologies for the fulfillment centers. In some stores, for instance, it will offer an automated pickup option that'll allow buyers to drive up to a designated area, scan a code and grab their order.

"Our customers love the speed and convenience of pickup and delivery, and we're committed to finding faster ways to serve them, which is why we're scaling the number of stores that will also serve as local fulfillment centers. We're already planning dozens of locations, with many more to come," Tom Ward, SVP of customer product for Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart's online grocery pickup and delivery have continued to post record-high sales volumes, according to the most recent third-quarter earnings results. At the end of the third quarter, Walmart offered pickup across 3,600 of its stores and same-day delivery across 2,900 stores. Walmart operates a fleet of more than 4,700 stores, with approximately 90% of the U.S. population living within 10 miles of a location.

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