Retail giant Walmart has revealed that it is adding another 500 Pickup Towers across its stores in the United States. Walmart first introduced the high-tech vending machines in about 200 retail outlets last year. This is one of the strategies Walmart has employed to fend off the competitive threat posed by Amazon.
With the Pickup Towers customers are able to save since they don’t have to pay for shipping when they shop online. Customers are also likely to spend more once at the store to pick the items they bought over the internet. For customers it is also a way to get their ordered items faster.
In order to use the facility all that customers have to do is shop online on Walmart’s e-commerce stores. Walmart will then send an email to a customer once the item or items that were ordered online are available for picking at the local store if there is a Pickup Tower there. Once the shopper arrives at the Pickup Tower they first proceed to a computer where they scan a barcode and then their ordered items are sent down.
Since the towers were unveiled last year, Walmart has indicated that over 500,000 orders have been placed this way. The towers are of a large size and can hold items that are big as television sets.
The new towers that Walmart will be introducing will also have Pickup Lockers that will be used for retrieved bigger purchases. Online retail giant Amazon has had a similar program for years. After acquiring Whole Foods Market last year Amazon was able to ramp up its Lockers program by adding them to the stores of the grocer and this has boosted visits. Additionally Amazon also recently unveiled Hub where delivery lockers are installed in apartment or condo complexes allowing the picking of orders right where people live.
This comes in the wake of reports indicating that Walmart is considering acquiring health insurer Humana. According to the reports the talks are still at the preliminary stages and various options are being considered including a full merger to a partnership that would ensure the independence of each company. Some analysts are of the view that Walmart is considering acquiring Humana since Amazon is also preparing to disrupt the drug supply chain.
“For Walmart, this move is a strategic response to any potential Amazon play in the drug supply chain or more broadly in healthcare,” an analyst note by investment bank Leerink said.