Walmart Canada Launches State-of-the-Art in-Store Technology to Significantly Speed-Up Online Grocery: Interviews

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Retail giant Walmart Canada has launched its new repurposed space inside the Scarborough West store which integrates state-of-the art technology, helping associates to pick online grocery orders six times faster than on a regular sales floor. 

Customers will benefit from tighter inventory control, resulting in fewer substitutions, and automated processes that enable the overall picking process to be 80 per cent faster. And more than 70 per cent of downtown Toronto customers could have their online grocery delivery fulfilled through this store.

“We have created a repurposed space inside the Scarborough store with integrated state-of-the-art technology and this is really helping our associates pick online grocery orders, cumulatively 80 per cent faster than they would be doing in a regular store today,” said Olivia Lynch, Director, Omni Store of the Future, Walmart Canada. “And the technology itself is helping us pick six times faster than we can on the sales floor. 

“This part of the industry has experienced a lot of growth. We’ve seen a lot of customers trying online grocery for the first time through the pandemic and we’re seeing that that behaviour is really sticking. We’re really confident about where that industry is going and how that behaviour is going to stick. And so, that’s really the why now. We’re confident that this industry is here to stay and we know that we’re going to continue to need the capacity to serve our customers.”

Lynch described the Scarborough location as ‘fantastic’, allowing the retailer the ability to reach more than 70 per cent of downtown Toronto customers through online grocery delivery from that store.

Will this concept be rolled out to other stores?

Olivia Lynch at Scarborough (Image: Walmart Canada)

“We don’t know yet. We’re not in a position to really share that yet. We’re still trying to figure that out ourselves,” said Lynch. “But what we do know is that much like this, we are looking at technology and innovation as a way to really (help) in picking faster, picking more and just being able to reach more customers.”

Using automated technology alongside proprietary Walmart systems, this reimagined space, the company said provides more choice, convenience, speed and quality to customers when they shop online for groceries:

  • The technology leverages data to systemically manage freshness in stored items, supporting Walmart’s commitment to delivering the freshest product; 
  • New delivery-led solution and processes enable faster loading, supporting on-time delivery;
  • As many as 1,200 customer orders per day can be fulfilled out of this store – much higher than average. 
  • Reach new customers in underserved areas – giving more access to products and Walmart’s everyday low prices; and  
  • Nearly 200 associates will support online grocery picking and fulfilment from this store.
(L-R): John Bayliss, EVP, Transformation Officer, Walmart Canada, Vera Friedrich, Vice President and Managing Director, Dematic Canada, Councillor Gary Crawford, City of Toronto, Olivia Lynch, Director, Omni Store of the Future, Saeed Anslow, VP, Omni-Channel & Online Grocery, Jonathan Rodriguez, Sr. Manager, Micro-Fulfillment, Dries Dhooghe, SVP, Operations – Region 2, Raj Radhakrishnan, Store Manager,  Laurent Duray, Chief E-commerce Officer, Mariam Khan, Manager, Omni Innovation, Walmart Canada
Horacio Barbeito

“We’re transforming our business for our customers, every day. By leveraging our stores, including modernizing our Scarborough West store with innovative new technology, we’re helping more customers access our everyday low prices through online grocery delivery,” said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada in a statement. “With investments in technology and infrastructure, our associates have more modern tools to serve our customers. Together we’re finding innovative ways to make our existing footprint work harder for customers as we make shopping online with Walmart faster, easier and more convenient.”

Laurent Duray

“Repurposing our space in Scarborough allows us to lean in to online grocery delivery for our downtown Toronto customers in ways we have never done before. We’ve embraced technology to help us increase capacity for orders, providing our customers with more available time slots and expanded access to delivery,” said Laurent Duray, Chief E-commerce Officer, Walmart Canada. “Our associates and our stores are the key to the journey we’re on to keep making the online shopping experience better and faster for our customers.”

The new repurposed Scarborough store is part of Walmart Canada’s $3.5 billion investment in the market.

“We’re absolutely investing in technology but it’s really focused on associate experience. We really want our associates to be able to work more easily with less effort and alongside that we’re providing training for our associates and our leadership to work alongside this technology,” said Lynch. 

(L-R): John Bayliss, Laurent Duray, Olivia Lynch, Saeed Anslow and Dries Dhooghe

“That’s what you’ll be seeing more of from us. In terms of the customer benefit as well, I think this type of technology of course is associate-focused but there’s also absolutely the customer focus. We know what’s really important for customers is accuracy, speed and quality for online grocery orders and we think technology like this is really to help us with that because the inventory becomes systematically controlled within the technology itself. Because we have better inventory controls, that means we have fewer substitutions and we know that is such an important thing for our customers.

“Because we’re using real-time data and systematic data to control our quality, we know exactly when an item has been put into the system. We’re always going to be able to make sure through this system, we’re never going to give customers any subpar product. So we’re really proud of that as well.”

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 is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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