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Walmart Canada Announces Major Investment to Integrate Ecommerce with In-Store

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Walmart Canada is investing $110 million in store renovations and technology to enhance the omnichannel experience for consumers as more and more Canadians are shopping online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategy by the retail giant includes the piloting of 10 hybrid locations where supercentres have expanded fulfillment space within their stores to increase the speed of fulfillment for pickup and delivery.

130 WALMART STORES SET TO UNDERGO RENOVATION TO BETTER ACCOMMODATE ECOMMERCE

Also more than 130 stores are being renovated over the next few years to make new space for ecommerce including about 19 this year.

The multi-million-dollar investment also includes:

  • Expanding Walmart Grocery Pickup to about 270 stores – or 70 percent of locations – by the end of 2020;
  • Rolling out mobile check-in across the country so customers can check-in for their grocery orders while on route, making the pickup speed quicker;
  • Reducing the minimum order value from $50 to $35 for free Grocery Pickup and Walmart Grocery Delivery ($9.97 fee);
  • Expanding availability of third-party partners, such as Instacart and Cornershop, to be offered in more stores across the country; and
  • Thousands of new people are also currently being hired for omnichannel related roles to meet customer demand.

“In these busy and challenging times, we know customers want choice and convenience more than ever,” said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada, in a statement. “This is a very exciting time at Walmart Canada, as we invest in the business, accelerate our omnichannel efforts and make the shopping experience easy and simple for our customers.”

“The speed of change is being dictated by customer demand and we are deepening our investments in our digital footprint and omnichannel offering more than ever,” added Alexis Lanternier, Executive Vice President eCommerce, Walmart Canada.

Jean-Francois Proulx, Director – Omnichannel Operations at Walmart Canada, said customers are looking for choice and convenience now more than ever.

“Saving time, saving money is always something that Walmart has had as a top priority. And this is why right now we’re accelerating our offering in the omnichannel world,” he said.

“It brings a lot of value to the customer having the ability to place a grocery (order) online and we’ve added more and more general merchandise type of orders so it’s really convenient for the customers to either come in and try the store and shop but also for this part here shop online and come and pick it up in one of our numerous pick up locations.

“It’s really transforming our stores into mini warehouses in order to fulfill the demand that we’re seeing.”

WALMART CANADA INVESTS $3.5 BILLION AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The investment is part of Walmart’s overall $3.5 billion investment in all aspects of the business.

The hybrid locations will increase capacity in stores by giving Walmart more space. The crown jewel, he said, is Walmart’s new hybrid concept store, a relocated store in Vaughan, Ontario (670 Applewood Crescent), which is the most modern omnichannel store in its network. Also, the hybrid store will serve as an incubator to test future omnichannel features. The new store features:

  • A 10,000-square-foot omnichannel fulfilment space within the store – the largest of any Walmart in Canada;
  • Will fulfil as many as eight times the online orders of an average Walmart store;
  • A large drive-up pickup area, where customers can conveniently park and have their order loaded into their vehicle; and
  • More efficient and modern technology to support associates.

“We definitely have more space to stage orders but also now what we’ve done in these hybrid locations is we’re actually also picking some of our top selling or fastest moving items in this hybrid area of the stock room so it enables us to keep a better in stock, also train in a back room setting off of the sales floor. So it offers us a lot of value for our customers and also for our associates,” said Proulx, adding the company will be looking to expand the concept in the future to more locations.

For some stores in the country, some space is being transformed where dedicated space, normally at the front of the store, is reserved for customers to pick up orders they have bought online.

“We’re going to continue evolving over these next couple of years as we see how customer behaviour changes,” added Proulx.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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