Taking on e-commerce giant Amazon.com can be a monumental task for any retailer, but Walmart has something its direct competitor doesn’t — physical stores for customers to pick up items for free.
By turning to the “Click and Collect” model, the company is setting itself apart from e-retailers by utilizing its physical stores as distribution centers. Additionally, it hopes that customers stick around and purchase other items while they are there to pick up an online order.
Walmart officials said that additional staff has been put in place for its “Pickup Discount” program. Also, some Walmarts are utilizing intelligent parcel lockers for consumers to walk up, scan a barcode sent to their smartphone and retrieve their package.
Case in point, Walmart’s Pickup Tower — a 16-foot automated vending machine of sorts that allows customers, who order items on the retailer’s website, to pick up their items without having to wait in line, in a matter of seconds.
Walmart's Pickup Tower made its debut in Charlotte, NC. The retailer hopes to enhance customer experience for orders placed online, which can be picked up within a matter of seconds using the technology.
Walmart recently debuted this technology at one of its stores in Charlotte, NC, and Marshall Deats, a member of Walmart’s e-commerce team, has said the response has been tremendous.
“This saves our customers time by allowing them to come and pick up their order in 13 seconds,” he said. “The way our customers shop is completely changing, and this pickup tower is helping us serve those customers.”
Walmart’s Pickup Tower at the Charlotte location was part of a complete renovation, which includes an improved store flow, wider aisles and lower fixtures for better line of sight.
Only a few stores have added this technology over the past few months, but that number is about to change. Walmart is the second-largest online retailer in terms of traffic with online sales continuing to climb.
Walmart is second only to Amazon.com in terms of online retail, but is adding to its Click and Collect experience via Pickup Towers.
According to eMarketer, Walmart showed healthy growth in its e-commerce business last year, increasing more than 15 percent year-over-year, and its U.S. e-commerce sales gained 35 percent on the prior year’s quarter.
It highlighted several recent e-commerce and omnichannel investments that helped drive its online sales growth such as:
Acquiring e-commerce Jet.com, which contributed heavily to its U.S. e-commerce growth
Orders via the Pickup Today service, which enables same-day pickup for items ordered online and are made available in its domestic stores
Launching a Global Import Store on JD.com, the China-based e-commerce giant in which it owns a 12 percent stake
But even with its impressive growth and investments, Walmart’s total e-commerce sales still make up a small fraction of its business — online sales are only 3 percent of total sales. This means that the retailer is still behind Amazon and has a long way to go in the e-commerce space.
The addition of several Pickup Towers should help change that.