A good chunk of Walmart’s recent growth has occurred within its Canadian division. It seems even further expansion in the country is on the books as the company announced a massive investment earlier this week. Walmart Canada now aims to make its online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster, and more convenient, dropping $3.5 billion in a bid to spur growth over the next five years.
"Millions of customers choose to shop with us in-store and online every day, and that's a tremendous honor," said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO. "Today's significant investment will position us for future growth and make Walmart Canada even better for our associates and our customers. We are doubling down on our focus on the customer experience, not just to keep up but to lead and to be the very best in Canada."
According to a press release, this investment will impact every aspect of the business leading to a faster e-commerce experience, two new distribution centers to speed up the flow of products, re-invented and "smarter" stores, an enhanced omni experience, and modern digital tools to ensure associates can best serve customers. The investment will also create hundreds of Canadian construction jobs and forge new partnerships with Canadian technology companies.
The reinvented, modernized "stores of the future” will include Walmart’s renovation of over 150 stores over the next three years. The retailer will also be accelerating digitization to create "smarter stores" by expanding electronic shelf labels and shelf scanners to monitor product volumes as well as implementing robotics and computer vision cameras to minimize touch while maximizing efficiency and accuracy. Additionally, the new checkout experience will include tap-to-pay service, new bigger self-checkout, and "Check Out With Me" mobile payment technology to allow associates to checkout customers anywhere in the store.
"We need to do everything we can to delight our customer every single time they choose to shop with us, whether it's online or in the store. We're challenging ourselves to be better and be relentlessly focused on excellent omni customer service and experience," said Sam Wankowski, Chief Operations Officer. "This means better stores, quicker service, and doing what Walmart does best: focusing on customers, always at Walmart's everyday low prices."
Walmart will also be accelerating its omni offerings for customers and creating thousands of new omni associate jobs by expanding the full "Walmart Pickup" offering to approximately 270 stores by the end of 2020. The retailer will also be piloting "hybrid locations," also known as supercentres with "micro fulfilment centres" in the backroom to increase the speed of fulfilment for pickup and delivery. Lastly, the company will Invest in new technology to accelerate the pickup experience as well as improve its fulfilment center operations to increase speed and trackability.
New distribution centers (DC) are also focal to Walmart’s plans as it is investing $1.1B to build and renovate locations and ultimately create hundreds of construction jobs. In Vaughan, Ontario, Walmart will build a 550,000 square foot distribution center to leverage next generation automation and technology working with Vanderlande. A new DC in Surrey, British Columbia, will stand at 300,000 square feet and the existing DC in Cornwall, Ontario, will now feature all-new automated systems.
"The retail business is as dynamic as ever and this investment ensures we're developing a supply chain that is the envy of the world. The better the supply chain, the quicker our customers can get the products they want. This investment will transform our supply chain and create hundreds of Canadian construction jobs along the way," said John Bayliss, Senior Vice President, Logistics and Supply Chain.
Lastly, Walmart Canada is ramping up capacity in its distribution center system through new leading-edge technologies:
Can we expect these updates to influence Walmart’s growth in the states? Stay tuned as we investigate.