Walmart is investing in its ability to anticipate customer demand.
The discount giant is acquiring Volt Systems, a technology company that develops solutions designed to provide suppliers with enhanced on-demand visibility into merchandising resources. The Volt application delivers current store-level data, actionable analytics, and shelf intelligence for suppliers to use in planning, forecasting, and optimizing product assortment.
As a result, Volt intends for end customers to receive a more seamless omnichannel shopping experience, with reduced friction due to out-of-stocks.
“The deal affirms Walmart’s continued investment in technology and innovation that enables us to better anticipate customer demand,” Walmart said in an official statement announcing the acquisition.
Walmart adds supply chain capacity Walmart has not specified whether it will provide Volt Systems technology to other companies or keep it in-house as a proprietary solution. Either way, the acquisition is the latest in a series of steps the retailer has taken to bolster its supply chain operations.
In February 2022, Walmart built a tech platform that powers its last-mile delivery ecosystem. Agnostic to supply and demand, and built around its own marketplace, the platform uses automation and machine learning to turn a near-infinite number of factors into usable data. As it learns through artificial intelligence (AI), the platform is designed to improve.
Walmart is also opening fulfillment centers around the country. These centers are focused on storing millions of items that are picked, packed and shipped directly to customers as soon as the next day.
The facilities are part of a broader initiative to add more capacity into Walmart’s supply chain as the retailer prepares for growth. Walmart has been ramping up its supply chain infrastructure, from expanding its successful pilot of store-based, high-tech “local fulfillment centers” to applying artificial intelligence to the palletizing of products in its regional distribution centers.
More recently, the discount giant said it will fulfill online orders placed on Walmart.com from a hub in Salt Lake City, scheduled to open in summer 2022. The company also plans to build a high-tech distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries in Spartanburg County, S.C., as well as two high-tech supply chain hubs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and a high-tech center in Lebanon, Tenn. where human associates, artificial intelligence (AI) software, and automated robots working together to ship orders to customers as efficiently as possible.
Walmart has also begun using multi-temperature autonomous box trucks from Gatik to move online grocery orders from a fulfillment-only dark store to a nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market store in its headquarters city of Bentonville, Ark.
If the company does decide to offer Volt Systems technology as a third-party solutions vendor, it has some experience in that area. Walmart launched Walmart GoLocal to deliver goods to customers of other businesses in August 2021, and has since partnered with e-commerce platform provider Cognetry Labs to provide an integrated white label, turnkey e-commerce delivery solution to mid-sized and independent grocery retailers.
Walmart is acquiring Volt Systems outright, including the company, talent, technology, and customer agreements. Based in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and clubs under 46 banners in 24 countries and e-commerce websites.