Walmart has announced plans to test in-store lockers for products ordered online in the US. This was among a number of new initiatives highlighted at its e-commerce media day held at its global e-commerce head office in San Bruno, California.
Lockers offer added convenience
The test of the lockers forms part of a broader plan by Walmart to integrate its physical stores with its online operations. Locker-based delivery has been growing in popularity, with Amazon linking up with a number of convenience operators, and Google recently acquiring Canada based BufferBox. Although Walmart has offered in-store pick-up for several years through its site-to-store service, this provides shoppers with an added level of convenience.
Store-based fulfillment supports same-day delivery
The retailer views its store asset base as offering a significant advantage over pure online operators in enabling it to hold inventory closer to its customers, helping it to offer both same-day and next day delivery options. Walmart is also going to expand the number of stores which are being used to directly fulfill online orders. The retailer started testing store-based fulfillment last year. With a highly optimized supply chain, Walmart can also reduce the cost of goods sold by completing a greater proportion of the delivery leg in-house, rather than using third-party distribution.
E-commerce sales set to exceed $9bn in 2013
Walmart is expecting its global e-commerce sales to exceed $9bn this year. With a focus on growing its operations in the US, Brazil, China and the UK, the retailer is also building its ‘Pangaea’ global platform which will enable it to deploy its online operations around the world, supported by common elements such as Polaris search and smart pricing. Mobile based initiatives will also be a key enabler of growth, with the retailer recently announcing the expansion of its ‘Scan & Go’ pilot, where shoppers scan their items with their iPhones and pay at self-checkouts, from 70 stores to 200 across 12 markets in the US.