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01/20/2022

Walmart to support e-commerce with new fulfillment center

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart is bringing a new fulfillment center to Mississippi.

Walmart is opening a fulfillment center in Mississippi in spring 2022.

Located in Olive Branch, Miss., the 1 million-plus-sq.-ft. facility is intended to support the retailer’s increasing supply chain network and e-commerce business in the mid-South. The new center is expected to create approximately 250 full-time, permanent jobs across the region.

Unlike distribution centers, which are focused on receiving, storing and distributing product to Walmart stores, the company’s fulfillment centers are focused on storing millions of items that are picked, packed and shipped directly to customers as soon as next day.

This latest facility is part of a broader initiative to add more capacity into Walmart’s supply chain as the retailer prepares for growth. In the third quarter of fiscal 2022, Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales grew 8% for the quarter and 87% over the past two years.

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.

The company has also begun using multi-temperature autonomous box trucks from Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup 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. In a first for middle-mile commercial deliveries, Walmart is making the autonomous deliveries without having a human safety driver in the truck.

In addition, Walmart took a variety of steps through the second half of 2021 to ensure it could meet holiday demand in the face of widespread supply chain disruption. Some of these steps included a push for hiring 20,000 new supply chain positions to help move products through its facilities as quickly as possible, as well as adding storage capacity in its fulfillment and distribution network through new facilities.

“Walmart is proud to welcome its newest fulfillment center to the city of Olive Branch as we continue to grow our national supply chain network and e-commerce capabilities in the mid-South,” said Steve Miller, senior VP of supply chain operations, Walmart U.S. “The new facility will store millions of items from Walmart’s everyday low-priced merchandise, which will be ready to be shipped directly to customers with the great speed that they expect.”

Walmart operates three distribution centers, 86 retail stores, and employs over 25,000 associates in the state of Mississippi. In neighboring Tennessee, Walmart operates 3 distribution centers, 150 retail stores and employs over 42,000.