Walmart runs global omnichannel commerce with advanced distribution

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart is continuing to make investments to fulfill omnichannel demand across its international markets.

During 2020, Walmart’s international division saw a 97% jump in e-commerce sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following is a brief overview of how Walmart has responded in the markets of China, Mexico, and Chile.

In China, one of the world’s most evolved e-commerce markets, Walmart has expanded delivery services with local partner JD Daojia all cities where Walmart operates, so that all of the discount giant’s 400-plus stores in the market offer one-hour delivery. Walmart supports this one-hour delivery network with complex logistics services, payment and vendor systems, IT support, and a nimble supply chain.

Walmart is also investing in specialized distribution centers, called cloud depots, that allow it to deliver directly to Chinese consumers. In a recent pilot, the Walmart cloud depot in Ningbo, China, handled close to 40,0000 orders for one-hour delivery before the physical store had ever opened. 

In Mexico, where many customers prefer to purchase products online but pick them up in a bodega on their way home from work, Walmart de México y Centroamérica recently opened its first omnichannel distribution center in the city of Mérida. The $42 million distribution center will distribute directly to customers via home delivery, as well as by servicing local bodegas.

In addition to leveraging the same cloud depot model it uses in China in Chile. Walmart operates six micro-fulfillment centers there that provide select items to customers within a 90-minute delivery window. These facilities hold a curated assortment of basic necessities, making it possible to deliver in such a rapid way. 

Walmart also recently announced a hybrid supermarket and distribution center, Omnicentro. This new format allows customers to choose between visiting a store physically or shopping online. The retailer is also investing $50 million through 2021 to continue developing e-commerce in Chile by improving the home delivery app and to enable pickup at 100 Lider supermarkets.

“Walmart is leading the future of retail around the world, and e-commerce and omnichannel are becoming more important,” Jeff Loafman, VP, Walmart international distribution and supply chain, said in a corporate blog post.“Our investments reflect our confidence in this approach. Most importantly, we want customers in all of our international markets to know they can count on a seamless, safe and convenient shopping experience at Walmart.”