Walmart Opens Second In-Store Market Fulfillment Center as It Continues to Evolve Logistics Strategy

Walmart opened its first high-tech market fulfillment center in Arkansas on Monday, underlining its strategic move toward expanding the use of its stores as fulfillment centers.

Located inside Store 100 at 406 S Walton Blvd. in Bentonville, Ark., the center is built within the store and is powered by a proprietary storage and retrieval system – named Alphabot.

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According to the big-box retailer, the new market fulfillment centers will “significantly increase” the number of online pickup and delivery orders the store is able to fulfill in a day, promising faster fulfillment with lower substitutions. Walmart+ members have even more to look forward to with free unlimited delivery.

In addition to improving the customer and member experience, associates will also notice benefits from the new market fulfillment centers. Walmart added that associates can expect more time to focus on serving customers and supporting each other. In addition, working with the Alphabot system presents new leadership jobs in stores, like the newly created MFC Lead, and opportunities to learn and teach new tech-forward skills.

But at the foundation of the center is Walmart’s strategic use of technology to transform its stores, making the shopping experience better for customers.

“We’re innovating toward an even better shopping experience every day, and on every platform,” Prathibha Rajashekar, SVP of innovation and automation at Walmart, said in a statement. “To help our customers and associates live better, we’re using technology to help them save time. That leads to improved experiences for everyone, no matter how they shop – and moves our entire business forward in the process.”

To celebrate the opening of the new center, the leadership team at Store 100 made a donation of $15,000 distributed among Bentonville High School, Bentonville West High School and Bentonville Schools Ignite Professional Studies Program.

Credit: Courtesy of Walmart
Credit: Courtesy of Walmart

Courtesy of Walmart

The market fulfillment center in Bentonville, Ark. is the first in the state. It’s the second nationwide, with the first being a proof of concept located at Store #2142 in Salem, N.H. Walmart plans to continue opening market fulfillment centers in select stores in the coming years.

This moves comes just months after Walmart confirmed it let go of hundreds of employees in fulfillment centers located in New Jersey, Texas, California, Florida and Pennsylvania. In a statement, Walmart confirmed it had “adjusted staffing levels” at fulfillment centers in certain markets to “better prepare for the future needs of customers.”

“Customer expectations are changing, and we are moving quickly to meet and exceed their needs,” Walmart said. “As demand grows, we are maximizing our network of stores and fulfillment centers, to deliver items for online customers, when and how they want them.”

At the same time, Walmart has recently invested heavily in upgrading its fulfillment centers. In September, Walmart opened a new fulfillment center in Joliet, Ill., the first of four “Next Generation” centers slated to open over the next three years. Each center features high-tech adjustments including robotics and machine learning.

In October, Walmart announced its acquisition of Alert Innovation, a robotics company that will help the company automate its order fulfillment process. Walmart said it will use this technology across its 4,700 stores to help fulfill orders more quickly.

In December, the retailer continued to expand its store fulfillment and delivery options, officially rolling out drone delivery in select markets in Arizona, Florida and Texas. At the time of the announcement, Walmart said there would be 36 stores making drone delivery available in 23 cities nationwide by the end of 2022.

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