Walmart Canada is adding automated kiosk pickup to one of its stores in the Toronto area, which, the company says, will be the first of its kind in that country.
In a corporate blog post published yesterday, Walmart Canada outlined a number of moves the company is making to accelerate its e-commerce efforts, including:
- Building out a 22,000 sq. ft. space inside the Scarborough West Supercentre that will automate online grocery picking and packing that is six times faster than manual order picking
- Expanding grocery pickup to 60 more stores this year
- Piloting “ring scanner” technology that allows workers to pick and scan items hands-free
But the new feature we are most interested in is the new automated grocery pickup. According to Walmart Canada’s blog post, these new automated kiosks will “serve as vending machines for online grocery orders and can serve up to five customers simultaneously.” To use the kiosk, customers pull into a dedicated parking spot, enter a code into the machine and their order will appear in under two minutes.
All of these new, automated features are being built in partnership with Dematic, and will launch later this year.
This isn’t the first automated kiosk we’ve written about. Albertsons debuted its own robot-powered kiosk for grocery pickup at a Jewel-Osco in Chicago. But to our knowledge, this is the first public mention of automated kiosk pickup from Walmart in North America.
In January, Walmart announced that it was partnering with Dematic, Fabric and Alert Innovation to deploy automated fulfillment centers to “dozens” of locations. Automated kiosks weren’t mentioned at that time, but it’s safe to assume that if Walmart Canada is testing them out, they will make their way to the U.S. at some point.
As we covered this week, a ton of resources are flowing into the online grocery sector. Smaller online grocery startups around the world are raising a lot of money, and big players like Walmart, Albertsons and Kroger are making big investments in their own e-commerce infrastructure.
The reason for this big push into grocery e-commerce is that online grocery sales hit $9.3 billion in January, and is projected to hit $250 billion and take up 21.5 percent of total grocery sales by 2025. Retailers are bolstering their e-commerce capabilities now, to accommodate the growth that is to come.
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