To out-cool Amazon and other omni-channel retailers, global based retailer Walmart has announced the deployment of new high-tech pickup towers at various store locations during the coming months.
In a recent Walmart blog posting, the retailer indicates that these pickup towers, became a reality in nearly 200 stores over the last year amid what was described as an overwhelmingly positive response from online shoppers. More than half a million orders are reported as being retrieved through the towers since first introduction, with plans for adding more than 500 additional towers to stores across the U.S. by the end of this year.
Recent data shared by online shopping analytics firm comScore, indicates that during the 2017 holiday buying quarter, Walmart.com was the second most visited site behind Amazon.com, raising its attractiveness by one placement. Amazon however continues to dominate in online transactions, hence Walmart’s aggressive efforts to compete in differentiated dimensions. The pickup towers serve in another dimension, namely the ability to free-up in-store personnel from having to staff both a customer service and online order pickup counter.
Supply Chain Matters staff has not as-yet had the opportunity to test these lockers but the Walmart accompanying video depicts a form of automated picking of parcels once the customer scans their online order at the tower kiosk screen. Similar to Amazon’s automated Kiosk pickup locations, accompanying sized lockers attached to a tower allow the ability for online consumers to retrieve larger-sized items such as a television or small appliance.
Walmart has additionally launched a new partnership with Google Express for inputting orders via Google Assistant. The arrangement which is scheduled to begin in late September, calls for featuring hundreds of thousands of items available for voice shopping on Google’s voice assistant app. This is an obvious bid to compete with Amazon’s Alexa capability and its Echo Speaker shopping devices that are becoming increasingly dominant in online shopping.
Retail analytics firm comScore recently also shared data relative to the U.S. online retail economy. In the category of use of smart speakers, the five most common users were noted as personal needs such as checking the weather, asking general questions, streaming music or seeking the latest news and sports updates. However, according to comScore data, 30 percent of smart speaker owners have purchased an item online via the device. Both smart speakers and individual retailer apps are a means to insure stickiness and loyalty of shoppers, and thus retailers will continue to leverage both convenience in ordering as well as pickup in their competitive activities.
Throughout 2018, many online retailers besides Amazon and Walmart will be deploying more convenient and cool pick-up and delivery options.
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