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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Walmart’s Net Strategy

Walmart Inc. is giving its Antelope Valley customers a new way to shop. Last month, the mega retailer installed a 16-foot-tall orange pickup tower at its Walmart Supercenter at 1731 E. Avenue J in Lancaster. Customers place orders on Walmart’s website or mobile app and then pick up their items at the in-store tower later that day. Shoppers receive an email notification once the order is ready, and upon arriving at the store, scan a barcode receipt on their phones to access the items. The new pickup tower, which is one of 500 in operation in the U.S., is part of a larger effort by Walmart to stave off competition from e-commerce competitors such as Amazon.com Inc. by giving customers faster and more convenient options. “Speed and convenience continue to be really important as time is becoming a form of currency for shoppers,” said Walmart Director of Communication Tiffany Wilson. In addition to pickup, Walmart sells and ships products through its website and has begun offering same-day grocery delivery to nearly 50 markets in the U.S. The company has also made a number of acquisitions over the past few years aimed at beefing up its e-commerce and delivery offerings. They include digital retailers such as apparel brand Bonobos and Indian online shopping site Flipkart, as well New York-based delivery startup Parcel and Latin American grocery delivery service Cornershop. Brick-and-mortar retailers such as Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. also ship online orders and have ramped up their delivery and pickup services. According to Nielsen Homescan, 40 percent of online shoppers currently take advantage of so called “click and collect” services. Increasing cart contents Since first introducing the towers two years ago, Walmart has filled more than 1 million pickup orders for non-perishable items ranging from health and beauty products to toys and apparel. Once an order is made, Walmart employees gather the items from store shelves and load them onto trays inside the towers, which can hold up to 600 items. Customers are then able to access their order in less than a minute, according to the company. For groceries, customers at 1,200 Walmart locations including Lancaster can opt for a separate grocery pickup service. Once a customer places an order online, employees select the items — including fresh produce, meat and dairy — and load the cart’s contents into a customer’s car at a designated loading area in the Walmart parking lot. Wilson says the new services have contributed to the company’s recent sales growth. In August, Walmart reported that same store comparable sales rose 4.5 percent and that total revenue increased 3.8 percent to $128 billion for the second quarter. “Customers are increasing the size of their carts,” she said. “Giving them increased options is driving that growth.” Going forward, Walmart plans to install about 200 additional towers at stores in the U.S. by the end of the year. More than two dozen installations are planned in California through February, but no additional towers are currently in the works for the San Fernando Valley area. In addition, the company announced that it will invest more than $185 million in store improvements and innovations in California next year. The new pickup tower is actually not the first of its kind in Lancaster. Last year, Walmart installed a tower at its other Lancaster location on 44665 Valley Central Way. The compnay chose the city to unviel the service in the greater San Fernando Valley region because customers at the two Lancaster stores often travel long distances to shop and the company wanted to give them the opportunity to save time on their commute. “We have great customers in the area that give us feedback about whether the innovations are working and making it more convenient to shop,” Wilson said. “Once they arrive, they can get in, get out and carry on their day.”

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