OPERATIONS

Walmart installing automated vending machines for online order pickup

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart continues to explore new ways to make it easier for customers to pick up goods purchased online.

The discounter is expanding its deployment of a giant self-service kiosk, which it calls a Pickup Tower, that spits out online orders to users of Walmart's buy-online-pickup-in-store service. Walmart debuted the technology last fall, in a store in Bentonville, Ark., close its headquarters.

"Much like a high-tech vending machine for your online orders, this feature…allows you to pick up items in less than a minute by scanning a barcode sent to your smartphone," stated Mark Ibbotson, executive VP of central operations, Walmart U.S., in a blog on the company's website. "The pilot phase has been so successful we’re expanding it to other locations across the country."

Walmart is also testing a self-service kiosk for pickup of groceries ordered online. The retailer installed a 20-ft.-by-80-ft. kiosk, or small building, in the parking lot of its supercenter in Warr Acres, Oklahoma.

According to a report by Mashable, the kiosk has refrigerators and freezers to keep the groceries fresh. Customers type in a code at the kiosk and their groceries appear within a minute. The service is only available to customers who spend at least $30 per order.

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