Walmart is leveraging its vast brick-and-mortar network to bolster its capability to quickly deliver online holiday purchases.
The discount giant has created a program that routes some orders from its e-commerce site to be fulfilled straight from its brick-and-mortar stores. Walmart will use existing local delivery capabilities to get orders to customers faster, while reducing the load on its online fulfilment centers.
Direct-from-store fulfillment of online orders is the latest in a series of a steps Walmart has taken to ensure prompt delivery of holiday packages. The company is taking space in existing regional distribution centers (RDCs) and creating pop-up e-commerce distribution centers, or eDCs, to meet its growing demand for delivery of online orders directly to customers. Walmart expects to ship up to 30% of its holiday volume from pop-up eDCs.
Other supply chain technology enhancements Walmart has enacted in preparation for the holidays include implementing random stow for both sortable and non-sortable items, improving pick times to avoid congestion in aisles with frequently purchased products, ensuring warehouse management app compatibility on employees’ personal devices, rolling out a single, cloud-based integration platform to manage multiple third-party fulfillment solutions, and increasing visibility into its entire fulfillment operations to meet promised delivery dates.
Meanwhile, chief Walmart rival Amazon has reportedly been using fabric tents to create temporary delivery stations to support last-mile delivery of packages during demand surges since April 2019. Amazon is also leveraging its Amazon 4-star and Amazon Books brick-and-mortar locations as physical pickup points for online holiday orders.
Customers won’t see a change in the Walmart app or a need to select a new service to receive online shipments from stores, although they may come in a Walmart bag from a store rather than a Walmart box from Walmart.com. Currently, Walmart delivers from more than 2,800 stores, covering nearly two-thirds of the country with direct-from-store delivery. The company also promotes the program is eco-friendly, as there aren’t as many boxes going out or long-distance miles being driven.
“Services like these that we’ve been building over time allow Walmart to serve customers in ways no other retailer can,” said Tom Ward, senior VP, customer product, Walmart, in a corporate blog post. “We’re able to show up when they need us the most, and that makes us all proud.”