Walmart said it is optimizing its supply chain operations end-to-end and working closely with its carriers across ports, rail and delivery to ensure an efficient flow of merchandise into stores and strong in-stock levels for customers. It is also testing and expanding local delivery capabilities with drone delivery and autonomous and electric vehicles, including expanding its DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end the year with the potential to reach 4 million U.S. households across six states.
Other supply chain preparations include:
• Deploying automated technology in three distribution centers, with three more slated to go live before the end of this year.
• Fulfilling orders through its 4,700 stores across the U.S., which the retailer says are located within 10 miles of 90% of the country’s population. Walmart offers in-store pickup and delivery options for more than 240,000 items, express delivery within two hours, and free next-day or two-day delivery on online orders.
• Bringing customers fast delivery through the Spark Driver platform, its crowdsourced local delivery service provider, which Walmart says reaches 84% of U.S. households across 10,000 pickup points.
• Introducing an extended return policy along with curbside returns at customers’ local stores, and providing in-home delivery and home return pickup for members of the Walmart+ paid membership program.
•Hiring approximately 40,000 associates across its U.S. business ahead of the holidays, which includes growing the Walmart Private Fleet. Walmart is also building on its network of drivers by bringing on an additional 1,500 associates in what the company says is an effort to ensure its fleet is prepared to drive and deliver during the 2022 holiday season and beyond.
In addition, Walmart recently opened a new fulfillment center in Joliet, Ill. It is the first of four next-generation centers dedicated to e-commerce that the retailer plans to open during the next three years. These investments in automation and innovation are intended to enable Walmart to flow products faster through its distribution and fulfillment network into stores.
“Our supply chain is essential to how we serve customers during the holiday season, and we all know the challenges of the past year,” said Jennifer McKeehan, senior VP, end-to-end delivery, Walmart, said in a corporate blog post. This year, customers are facing new challenges like economic pressure from inflation. Additionally, global supply chains have improved – but not fully recovered – post-pandemic. We’re also seeing sustained shifts in consumer shopping behavior, with people doing their holiday shopping earlier than ever.
“This holiday season, our customers can rest assured that we’re ready to deliver the items they want and need this holiday season at the everyday low prices they expect from Walmart.,” said McKeehan.
Headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and clubs under 46 banners in 24 countries and e-commerce websites.