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03/17/2021

Walmart Canada Sinks $500 Million Into Stores, Readies 1st Auto Fulfillment Center

Lisa Johnston
Managing Editor
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Walmart Canada will make its largest annual investment in store upgrades in 2021, spending $500 million to refurbish and refresh more than 60% of its stores.

It’s also readying its first automated market fulfillment center.

The store upgrades, which are designed to boost customer experience and modernize operations, are the next step in Walmart Canada’s $3.5 billion, five-year investment plan announced last summer. As part of that framework, the retailer is powering its e-commerce experiences and creating 150 “stores of the future.”  

“We are on a mission to modernize all aspects of our business and that includes our stores,” said Horacio Barbeito, Walmart Canada president and CEO. “Investing in our stores is a major priority. In so many cases our stores are pillars in the community, and we want them at their best — especially as we serve our customers in more omnichannel ways.”

Included within that $3.5 billion investment is the development of Walmart Canada’s first automated market fulfilment center inside one store. The 22,000-square-foot space in the Scarborough West Supercenter will automate online grocery picking and dispensing with picking speeds said to be six times faster than manual store picking.

Developed in partnership with Dematic, the store will also have automated vending machine kiosks for online grocery orders. Upon arriving in a designated parking spot, consumers enter a code and their ordered items will appear in less than two minutes. Each kiosk can serve up to five customers simultaneously.

Digital Upgrade Details

Walmart Canada, which operates more than 400 stores, is also expanding grocery pickup to 60 more stores this year, translating to 85% of its stores offering the service.

The number of stores offering ship from store is doubling to 30 locations, and it’s piloting hands-free “ring scanner” technology that enables store associates to pick and scan items faster.

Store updates include:

  • Improved lighting, repairs, paint, new signage, and a refreshed exterior front look for Walmart Supercenters
  • Upgraded and improved associate lounges
  • Improved picking space at stores with high e-commerce volume
  • Revamped sales floor layout in some stores

“When a customer chooses to shop at our stores we want to do everything we can to ensure they are met with the best and most modern experience possible,” said Sam Wankowski, Walmart Canada COO. “We are making a lot of improvements, including digitizing the experience to be more contemporary and creating a more efficient store to serve our customers regardless of how they choose to shop with us.”

The retailer also announced it’s closing six stores, with all associates offered roles at nearby locations.