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Walmart Canada to spend $3.5 billion to upgrade stores, digital, supply chain

Walmart Canada will renovate more than 150 stores during the next three years – or over one-third of its store network — as part of a major investment that will touch every aspect of its business. 

The discount giant announced a $3.5 billion investment to make its in-store and online shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient.  The retailer said the investment, spread out during the next five years, will lead to re-invented and “smarter” stores, a faster e-commerce experience, two new distribution centers to speed up product flow, an enhanced omnichannel experience and modern digital tools to ensure employees can best serve customers.

The investment will also create hundreds of Canadian construction jobs and forge new partnerships with Canadian technology companies.

“Today’s significant investment will position us for future growth and make Walmart Canada even better for our associates and our customers,” said Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO, Walmart Canada. “We are doubling down on our focus on the customer experience – not just to keep up but to lead and to be the very best in Canada.” 

Walmart Canada noted that its newly announced store investments are in in addition to the more than $1 billion it has invested into remodeling and opening stores during the past five years. With the new investment, the company said it will accelerate digitization to create “smarter” stores, including expanded electronic shelf labels, shelf scanners to monitor product volumes, robotics and computer vision cameras to simplify, minimize touches and maximize efficiency and accuracy.

In addition, the retailer will introduce a new checkout experience to reduce touchpoints, including tap-to-pay, new bigger self-checkout and “check out with me” mobile payment technology to allow employees to checkout customers anywhere in the store.

In addition to modernizing stores, Walmart Canada’s other plans include:  

• Accelerating the omni offering for customers and create thousands of new jobs in the process. Expanding the full “Walmart Pickup” offering to approximately 270 stores – or 70% of locations – by end of 2020.

The company is also piloting “hybrid locations,” described as supercenters with “micro fulfilment centres” in their backroom to increase the speed of fulfilment for pickup and delivery. 

It also is investing in new technology to accelerate the pickup experience, including advanced notification, and to improve our fulfilment center operations to increase speed and trackability

•    Investing $1.1 billion to build two new distribution centers and renovate an existing distribution center.  

The company will build a 550,000 distribution center in Vaughan, Ontario, with an opening date in 2024. The facility will leverage next-generation automation and technology working with Vanderlande. In addition, a 300,000-sq.-ft. center, in Surrey, British Columbia is currently under construction and slated to open in 2022. Walmart Canada is working with Witron on the site’s distribution logistics technology.

In Cornwall, Ontario, new automated systems will be deployed in an existing center to manage apparel, health and beauty, and other small general merchandise items. The systems, slated to go live in early 2021, will feature machine learning from Cobot Technology which can work in concert with associates to improve the accuracy and efficiency of operations.

• Ramping up capacity in its distribution center system through new leading-edge technologies.  These include next-generation warehouse systems which are “omni capable” in meeting the future needs of both physical stores and e-commerce and investing in telematics and “internet of things” sensors across over 2,200 trailers to give real-time information around the quality and freshness of deliveries.

In addition, Walmart Canada will launch artificial intelligence software in partnership with o9 to more accurately predict and better plan volume to ensure customers get what they want, when they want. It also is scaling the blockchain transportation payments platform with Toronto based DLT Labs, the world’s biggest blockchain solution for transportation payments system

Walmart Canada will use new machine learning training software to support improved training and safety on the front lines of its distribution centre and fleet operations with Axonify, a micro-frontline learning company.
“The retail business is as dynamic as ever and this investment ensures we’re developing a supply chain that is the envy of the world,” said John Bayliss, senior VP, logistics and supply chain, Walmart Canada. “The better the supply chain, the quicker our customers can get the products they want. This investment will transform our supply chain and create hundreds of Canadian construction jobs along the way.”

Walmart Canada operates more than 400 stores nationwide.

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