Is Walmart building a tower of power with its expanding in-store pickup network?
Walmart has announced it is going into rapid expansion mode with its system of in-store Pickup Towers. The retailer, which rolled out 200 of the automated kiosks in its stores last year, is looking to add another 500 to locations across the country by the end of 2018.
With 700 towers in use, Walmart will have one in just under one-third of its stores offering in-stock pickup by the end of the year. At the recent Shoptalk conference, Walmart’s e-commerce chief in the U.S., Marc Lore, said the retailer expected to offer in-store pickup in around 2,200 stores before the year was out.
The retailer also announced it has made some adjustments to its system, as well. The chief complaint with the first towers was that they did not give customers the option of picking up orders of larger items such as flat screen televisions. To address this, Walmart is adding Pickup Lockers to stores that have towers.
An article on Engadget was positive about the technology behind Walmart’s towers, but took some issue with the placement of the devices in its stores. The piece said many of the towers were positioned in the back of stores, which might be good for Walmart since it means customers “were more likely to buy stuff while making a pick up,” but made the process less convenient for those looking to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible.
Walmart’s announcement made clear that it is exploring all avenues when it comes to connecting with its customers. It listed Online Grocery Pickup, Pickup Discount, Mobile Express Scan & Go, its partnership with Google Express and grocery home delivery as initiatives helping it to move the needle. While not providing specifics, management added that it is testing concepts similar to its towers “that could make picking up your online order even better in the future.”
- More Way to Pickup – YouTube
- Hundreds More High-Tech Pickup Towers are Headed Your Way – Walmart
- Walmart is adding 500 more ‘Pickup Towers’ to stores this year – Engadget
- Walmart is focused on expanding its digital brand portfolio – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you make of Walmart’s Pickup Tower expansion and potential similar concepts it may use? Is there validity to the criticism of where the towers are placed within Walmart’s stores?