Walmart Canada will spend more than $500 million this year in its store network, with a focus on refurbishing and refreshing stores in communities across the country.
These updates are the latest in a series of store investments, building on the retailer’s planned $3.5 billion investment over the next five years to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient.
Automated fulfillment centre
Construction has started on the retailer’s first fully automated fulfillment centre inside its Scarborough West Supercentre in the Greater Toronto Area.
The 22,000 square foot space, will automate online grocery picking and dispensing with picking speeds up to six times faster than manual store picking.
The new space will also feature a first for a big grocery retailer in Canada: automated kiosks that serve as vending machines for online grocery orders and can serve up to five customers simultaneously. The automation is being developed in partnership with Dematic and will open later this year.
Customers drive up to a dedicated parking spot, enter a code and ordered items will appear in less than two minutes, ready to load into their cars.
Pick-up and delivery
Walmart will also expand grocery pickup service to 60 more stores this year, which will mean that 85 percent of Walmart Canada stores will offer grocery pickup services.
Grocery delivery, currently available in Quebec and Vancouver, will be expanding to Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg later this year. Partnerships with third-party partners such as Cornershop and Instacart are being expanded to serve more customers and increase fulfillment speed.
The company will be trying ring scanners in stores, allowing associates to pick and scan items faster by working handsfree.
It will also be doubling the number of stores offering “ship from store” to 30 locations. These stores ship items directly to customer homes from a store – not from a fulfillment centre, speeding up the delivery for customers.
This is the largest yearly investment in store upgrades Walmart Canada has made. The work is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs in communities from Prince George, British Columbia to New Minas, Nova Scotia.
Alongside the improvements, Walmart Canada will close six stores in Malton, Kitchener East and Hamilton (County Fair), Ontario; Calgary (Deer Valley) and Edmonton (Abbotsfield) Alberta; and St. John’s South, Newfoundland and Labrador. Walmart operates a chain of more than 400 stores nationwide.