Walmart turns four stores into e-commerce laboratories

Employee with scanner in Walmart hypermarket
Photo: Walmart

Walmart is turning four of its hypermarkets into laboratories, which are investigating how to make better use of the retailer's physical stores for e-commerce. The chain is testing different technologies there.


Employees become laboratory mice

How can physical stores stimulate online growth? That's what Walmart is looking for in four new laboratory stores, CNBC writes. Four American branches of the chain will be transformed into living test centres where employees will make use of digital tools, shopfitting will be adapted and various strategies will be used to speed up and improve the preparation of online orders.

Walmart's enormous store network should be an advantage, also in e-commerce, the company argues. Thanks to more than 4,700 physical stores in the United States, more than 90% of Americans live within a 16 kilometre radius, which can turn points of sale into convenient hubs, both for preparing orders and for collection or delivery.


Small things make all the difference

Small interventions can already make a difference to increase efficiency, the company sees. For example, employees who pick 'hard to find' products find it 20% easier to find them through better area designations and if they carry a mobile device that shows them the way. Signalisation and technology are therefore some of the innovations that the retailer is trying out in the laboratory stores.

The supermarkets will also test an app with artificial intelligence, which can scan several boxes in the warehouse at once instead of one by one. In addition, Walmart wants to try to better synchronise the clothing assortment in the test stores and online. The checkout will also be given a makeover, both in terms of hardware and software.