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Walmart in massive commitment to digital in its stores

US retail giant Walmart is to invest an incredible $11 billion in its store estate over the next 12 months as it shifts the focus of its physical units into being a more integrated part of the group’s developing multichannel model.

This involves as many as 500 stores being redesigned with a greater emphasis on technology through the introduction of a serious level of automation that will enable the stores to more efficiently handle inventory and also become online fulfilment and delivery hubs.

Delia Garcia, spokesperson for Walmart, said: “We’re using the stores as that connector to be able to serve customers how and whenever they want. Customers can order online and use [in-store] pickup towers, and some customers want to browse and look for things, and we want it to be pleasant and convenient.”

Among the kit being introduced are 1,500 autonomous floor-cleaning robots, 300 robotic shelf scanners, and 1,200 units that scan and sort items as they are unloaded onto trucks.

In addition, as part of the move towards boosting its eCommerce capabilities Walmart is introducing up to 1,700 pick-up towers – that speed-up click & collect by acting like vending machines for the collection of goods that have been ordered online – and introducing 3,100 grocery pick-up locations and 1,600 delivery locations at stores across the US.

The revamped stores will also have new self-checkout terminals installed alongside new signage, revamped grocery presentation and pharmacy departments that include private consultation rooms that add to the service element at Walmart stores, which it hopes will give customers more reasons to visit.

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