Walmart Canada’s new store in Vaughan, Ontario, showcases how the retailer is evolving its large store format to support its fast-growing ecommerce business.
Most modern omnichannel store
Earlier this year, Walmart Canada outlined a $3.5bn investment plan, focused on its stores, supply chain and technology. As part of this, it is investing $110m this year in store renovations and technology to deliver an improved omnichannel experience. Several of these elements have come to life at its new store in Vaughan, Ontario. The Walmart Supercentre is described as the “the most modern omnichannel store in the retailer’s network.” Key features include:
- A 10,000-square-foot omnichannel fulfilment space within the store which is used to pick orders. This includes grocery, fresh foods and produce items
- A large drive-up pickup area, where customers can park and have their order loaded into their vehicle
- The use of more efficient and modern technology to support fulfillment
Source: Walmart Canada
Hybrid stores can fulfil up to eight times more orders
Walmart will pilot 10 hybrid locations, featuring an expanded fulfillment space. This approach enables the store to fulfil up to eight times more online orders, comparted to the average Walmart store. Increasing capacity has been a key focus for all retailers since the start of the pandemic. In addition, the retailer will undertake more than 130 store remodels over the next few years, including 19 this year, to create new space for ecommerce. The retailer will also roll-out mobile check-in across its network, to increase the speed at pickup, while it will expand the availability of third-party partners, such as Instacart and Cornershop.
“The most modern omnichannel store in the retailer’s network.”
Repurposing excess space
The addition of the dedicated space for picking ecommerce orders is something we have seen elsewhere. Coles in Australia has used excess store space to hold additional products of its best-selling products online, while multiple retailers, including Walmart US, have piloted automated micro-fulfillment at store level. Creating a mini dark-store within the body of an existing store provides retailers with several advantages, even if it does not enable the same pick rates as an automated solution. With this model, Walmart will be able to offer its complete store range online and offer in-store shoppers a better experience. Last month, Walmart US launched its own plans to pilot an omnichannel store concept.
Retail Analysis subscribers: see our new report, Online profitability: in-store picking, the first of a four-part series examining the profitability of grocery ecommerce in detail.
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