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Holiday preview: Walmart touts digital capabilities


Walmart opened a dedicated online fulfillment center in Fort Worth this week and said its largest facility ever will open next spring in Bethlehem, Pa.

The two facilities will be full dedicated to the fulfillment on online orders and join an existing stable of 130 U.S. distribution centers, some of which also are used to fulfill orders placed online, according to the company. The Fort Worth facility measures 800,000-sq.-ft., will employ 275 full time workers and be operated by Brentwood, Tenn.-based OHL, a global supply chain management solutions company. The Bethlehem facility will be more than one million-sq.-ft., employ 350 workers and be operated by Walmart.

The new facilities are part of what Walmart calls its next generation fulfillment network that will allow it to deliver U.S. online orders faster and at a lower cost.

"With our dedicated online facilities and 4,100 stores within five miles of two-thirds of the U.S. population, we gain a significant advantage by being positioned in the most important location — close to our customers," said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of "This unique combination allows us to get more products to our customers faster and at a lower cost."

The distribution enhancements come as Walmart has dramatically expanded its online assortment. The company said its online offering now exceeds five million items, more than double the number offered last year.

The company also reiterated earlier guidance indicating its ecommerce sales will exceed $10 billion this year and offered other nuggets information to showcase the growth of its digital business. For example, Walmart said its online assortment would reach into the tens of millions in the coming year and that global ecommerce growth, primarily Brazil, China and the United Kingdom, grew at 30% in the most recent quarter.

The company also noted that more than 10% of its orders are shipped from stores and more than 50% are shipped in less than two days.

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