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Walmart Launches First-of-its-Kind State-of-the-Art Fulfillment Centre in Canada: Interview

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Walmart Canada has launched a new state-of-the-art warehouse order fulfillment centre in Cornwall, Ontario – the first of its kind for the giant retailer in Canada.

The $20-million investment in the 40,000-square-foot space provides the retailer with a modern method of order fulfillment that uses innovative technology with a user-friendly computer system to deliver goods to associates. The system will provide general merchandise, including health and beauty products, apparel, stationery, and electronics to 136 Walmart stores from Kingston, Ontario, to Canada’s East Coast. It is part of Walmart Canada’s $3.5-billion investment to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient for associates and customers, said the company.

Ken Henderson

Ken Henderson, Vice President of Distribution Centre Operations for Central Canada for Walmart Canada, said the technology allows the company to improve its capacity and capability to provide more accurate selection.

The company will be able to more quickly, efficiently and accurately put product on store shelves with greater traceability.

“When we think about product flow and how we meet the needs of our customers, we want to make sure we have the right amount of products in the stores and ready for consumers. Our focus is on how do we create the best selection for our customers. We think about our store associates as well and how they work from the back of the store and then move the product from the back to the shelves. This technology helps them to become more effective in how they do that,” said Henderson.

Walmart Canada Distribution Centre in Cornwall, Ontario (Image: Walmart Canada)

“With the way it’s being picked, the technology sets it up for being more convenient and more accurate for our store associates. So ultimately speeding it up and allowing them to do it more accurately ultimately provides a better shopping experience for customers.”

Walmart Canada operates a chain of more than 400 stores nationwide serving 1.5 million customers each day. It listed the following new features and benefits at the Cornwall facility:

  • Modern machinery powered by an easy-to-use computer system that helps support workflow, improving accuracy and traceability;
  • The infrastructure can transport 60,000 goods in 16 hours, increasing speed and productivity;
  • The facility uses cutting-edge logistics technology, installed by Vanderlande;
  • The technology helps move goods in the warehouse with fewer physical demands;
  • It is omni-capable in meeting the current and future needs of stores and e-commerce; and
  • The new software is similar to what will be used in two distribution centres currently under construction in Surrey, British Columbia (expected to open in 2022) and Vaughan, Ontario (expected to open in 2024).
Walmart Canada Distribution Centre in Cornwall, Ontario (Image: Walmart Canada)
Walmart Canada President and CEO Horacio Barbeito

“We’re incredibly excited to be modernizing our supply chain – in Cornwall and across the country. These investments will help our associates to better serve our customers,” said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada, in a statement. “Cornwall is an integral part of our supply-chain network and we’re committed to providing jobs and opportunities to this valuable community that we’ve proudly called home for 27 years.”

Cornwall has become an important city for Walmart, having a presence there since 1994. The Cornwall Walmart store was converted into a Supercentre in 2015, where it currently employs approximately 280 associates. Cornwall is also home to four Walmart distribution centres, covering 2.9 million square feet.

The new facility will go into an existing facility that has been operating for Walmart for about 20 years.

Walmart Canada Distribution Centre in Cornwall, Ontario (Image: Walmart Canada)
Walmart Canada Distribution Centre in Cornwall, Ontario (Image: Walmart Canada)

“We picked that as one of the first phases of multiple investments that we’re doing across Canada. So in picking Cornwall, it had the space that we could use this new technology. We had the space and capability to start there,” said Henderson. “When we built this facility 20 years ago, it was a great hub to service both Ontario and Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

“We’re actually adding more technology across Canada. You’ll see it in Surrey, BC, and you’ll see some in Vaughan, Ontario as well.”

The company also has a current project in Moncton which is more of a traditional facility.

Article Author

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 is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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