Walmart’s “vending machine” towers giving it a leg up in e-commerce

Walmart’s surging online sales, along with increased food sales at its stores, are making the massive global retailer more attractive to seafood companies looking for an online sales outlet.

Walmart’s e-commerce sales jumped 50 percent in its fiscal third quarter, a year after acquiring Plus, a big push on grocery pickup at its stores has fueled Walmart’s in-store sales. 

"We have momentum, and it's encouraging to see customers responding to our store and e-commerce initiatives," CEO Doug McMillon said. "Existing customers have become advocates for popular initiatives like online grocery and free two-day shipping, and as a result, new customers, suppliers, and partnerships are coming to Walmart.” 

A few of the numerous seafood products already sold on include Bumble Bee and Starkist canned tuna, Brunswick Kippered Seafood Snack, Vigo Octopus in Olive Oil, and Sol-Mex Seafood Cocktail.

Walmart’s total revenue for the third quarter climbed 4.2 percent, to reach USD 123.18 billion (EUR 105 billion). And the average ticket at Walmart's U.S. stores was up 1.2 percent, thanks to a rapid growth in food sales. 

”Market share in the critical food category continues to grow as the expansion of its buy-online/pick-up in store capability is driving increased sales, and the focus on improving working capital continues," Moody's retail analyst Charlie O'Shea wrote in a note, CNBC reported.

Walmart has significantly expanded its free grocery pickup service – allowing customers to order online and then pick up their groceries outside the store – throughout 2017. The service is now available at more than 1,000 U.S. stores.

Now, the chain is bolstering its pickup of online orders by adding online pickup towers, which are around 16 feet tall, to 500 U.S. stores, according to Business Insider. Customers who have ordered online with in-store pickup can enter their order number at the tower and receive their package quickly, as the machine operates similarly to a vending machine. 

“The towers are game-changers for online order pickups,” Business Insider said. “Customers don't have to interact with employees to use the machines. They enter an order number or scan a barcode on their phones, and the package appears in a matter of seconds.”


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