Walmart’s New Method of In-Store Pickups
Retail giant Walmart is expanding its use of so-called “Pickup Towers” to 700 total stores by the end of the year, up from 200 currently, according to a report in Retail Dive. The expansion will make the kiosks available to nearly 40% of the U.S. population.
The Looming Towers
The towers are part vending machine, part locker, akin to Amazon’s pick-up lockers, but with a high-tech twist. Walmart’s Pickup Towers enable customers to place orders online and retrieve them in-store with ease. This adds a level of convenience not commonly considered part of the big-box retailer shopping experience, and saves customers from having to trek through the cavernous stores to get their items.
Essential Metrics and KPIs for Retailers
The differentiator between Pickup Towers and lockers is in its automation. After placing an order, a customer receives an email notifying them their order is ready for pickup. Customers then go to the store and scan their provided barcode on their smartphone, at which point the item whisks through the interior of the tower and pops out. The customer can then grab their item and leave the store, no waiting in line, no checking out.
Walmart says more than 500,000 orders have already been ordered and retrieved from their Pickup Towers, and the company described the response to the initiative as “overwhelmingly positive.” Besides expanding the number of Pickup Towers, Walmart plans to add “Pickup Lockers” that will allow customers to self-serve larger items like televisions. The company is also working on an app that will let customers use the towers for returns, Retail Dive reports.
Pickup Towers Reduce Staff While Boosting Efficiency, Convenience
The move is, at least in part, geared towards lowering the amount of staff needed to service the increasing volume of customers placing orders online, cut fulfillment costs and generally increase the speed and efficiency of the shopping experience. Danielle Dolinsky, an analyst with PlanetRetail RNG told Retail Dive in an email that Walmart expects to eventually broaden the Pickup Tower program to the retailer’s more than 3,500 U.S. locations. Walmart is investing heavily in this technology, looking to weave it into the fabric of the largest retailer in America.
As online shopping becomes more prevalent each year, more retailers are looking at ways to integrate the convenience of online shopping with a memorable, high-tech in-store experience. Walmart of all companies certainly has the capital to make this happen, and if there isn’t one already, it likely won’t be long until the company’s Pickup Towers arrive at a Walmart near you.
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