Walmart in the US has revealed that its 20,000 square metre micro-fulfillment center at its Supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, is now fully operational, following tests that started in mid-2019. Supported by Alphabot technology, robots pick ambient, refrigerated and frozen items and forward orders to a commissioning point, where human associates check and bag the orders before taking them to the pick-up station or delivering.
With speed emerging as a major competitive battlefield in US ecommerce, Walmart is investing in exclusive technology by Alert Innovation to build a competitive advantage through accelerated online fulfillment. The move comes as Amazon, too, invests in rapid delivery capabilities in grocery, eliminating its Fresh delivery fee while phasing in a two-our delivery service since late 2019.
As shopper expectations on speed and convenience only continue to rise, smaller grocers will now struggle to break into ecommerce on their own. With improving tech standards driving market consolidation online, CPG brands should focus on partnerships with players that will be able to compete on fulfillment speed and win with the on-demand customer. Brands must also notice the importance of third-party delivery intermediaries like Instacart as a new channel, helping smaller grocers online and building major influence on product visibility and buying decisions.
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