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Walmart is Adding This Quick Shopping Feature to Dozens of Stores

There's even plans for drive-thru pickup lanes!

The process of placing and receiving digital orders at America's largest grocery chain is about to get a whole lot faster. That's because quick-service local fulfillment centers are coming to dozens of Walmart stores, the company announced on Jan. 27.

The fulfillment centers will be used to "fill pickup and delivery orders, make deliveries, and more," Tom Ward, SVP of customer product, wrote in a post on the retailer's website. The automated warehouses, which will be added to or built within stores, can hold thousands of products, including fresh and frozen produce.  (Related: Be prepared for these Grocery Shortages To Expect in 2021, According to Experts.)

Whereas an employee would previously have to navigate their neighborhood Walmart to manually collect items from store shelves to fulfill orders, automated bots will now gather them inside the fulfillment centers—but not in all cases.

"While the system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper handpicks fresh items like produce, meat and seafood, and large general merchandise from the sales floor," Ward said. "Once the order is collected, the system stores it until it's ready for pickup. This whole process can take just a few minutes from the time the order is placed to the time it's ready for a customer or delivery driver to collect."

This innovation aims to increase availability, improve efficiency, and speed up fulfillment times on digital orders. Case in point: Some stores will even have drive-thru pickup lanes to make the contactless process even quicker.

Expect more of these fulfillment centers in the future, since Walmart is beginning to scale them now. In addition to food, they'll store other products available to customers online like clothing, electronics, and games.

Walmart tested its first local fulfillment center in 2019 in Salem, N.H. To get the latest Walmart and other grocery store news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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