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June 13, 2019
In the not-too-distant future, Walmart shoppers could be able to have their groceries delivered directly into their refrigerators, even if they aren’t at home.
That’s one of several new initiatives the retail giant unveiled at its recent annual shareholders’ meeting — changes Walmart said are focused on transforming community engagement, grocery shopping, sustainability and opportunity at the company.
“These initiatives were sparked as part of a mission to find better ways to evolve as a company,” director of communications Tiffany Wilson said. “We’re innovating for the future by giving associates better technology, pushing them to be more involved in their neighborhoods and serving our customers the best way we can.”
The most transformative change to how Walmart serves its customers is the announcement of InHome Delivery. Beginning in pilot markets, customers will select the date and time they want their groceries brought into their homes by an associate using smart technology and wearing a “proprietary, wearable camera” so the delivery can be watched remotely.
The service will be available to residents of Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Fla., in the fall and is expected to expand to more markets soon after.
Wilson said while she is not sure when South Dakota Walmart locations will feature the service, the company believes it soon will be a well-received staple of Walmart’s customer-service system.
“The reason why we’re rolling it out is to help customers save time,” she said. “Our already-established grocery pickup and delivery services get really high marks. If this new system is something our customers and associates find valuable in our test markets, then we’ll roll it out across the nation as soon as we can.”
Wilson also highlighted specific changes to South Dakota Walmart locations that customers should expect to see in the coming months. Supercenters in Pierre and Aberdeen are being remodeled with wider aisles and updated apparel and entertainment departments. The Sioux Falls Walmart at 85th and Minnesota recently opened a FedEx Office inside the location.
While InHome Delivery won’t be in South Dakota for the foreseeable future, the Watertown and Worthington, Minn., locations are receiving a new shopping method soon: pickup towers.
Wilson described these devices, which are already present at Sioux Falls’ 60th Street North location, as “16-foot tall vending machines.” Customers can order online any items that aren’t perishable and are the size of a microwave or smaller for pickup. They get a barcode they can scan at the pickup tower, which will vend their items within seconds.
For items that cannot fit in the tower, scanning the barcode will open up a locker adjacent to the tower containing their purchase. Wilson said the system is a great tool for back-to-school shopping, and the towers will be installed by late October at the latest.
Walmart also opened up six Build-a-Bear shops within its stores last holiday season, and it is looking to expand to 25 additional locations this year. It is increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations at its stores, too.
Other companywide initiatives announced at the shareholder meeting include Walmart Rise, which will begin with the company giving $5,000 to each Walmart store and distribution center across the United States this year, totaling more than $24 million. This money will be used to “transform how Walmart associates and customers support their communities.”
Walmart also is expanding its Live Better U education benefit to include 14 additional technology degrees. The program involves assistance with education from the high school level through graduate work. It’s connected to the broader Walmart Academy development program, which opened an academy at the northwest Sioux Falls store last year.
Collectively, the new initiatives are designed to lead to more efficiency in communication and services for associates and customers, Wilson said.
“We expect our jobs to look different and our associates to use different skills with these initiatives,” she said. “We’re arming them with new technology, allowing them to up-skill and get more benefits from working at Walmart. We have unique assets as a company we can leverage, and that’s exactly what we’re doing to help our customers save their valuable time.”
For information about Walmart’s new initiatives, click here.
What will Walmart look like in the future? From easier pick-ups to delivery right to your fridge, we talked to the retail giant about its latest initiatives.