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Walmart Canada Will Invest $3.5 Billion To Modernize Stores, DCs And Supply Chain

Walmart Canada is planning a $3.5 billion (Canadian) investment over the next five years that will impact every aspect of its business. The equivalent in U.S. dollars is $2.58 billion.

At the store level, the funds will go toward:

  • Renovations to nearly one-third of its locations;
  • Expansion of curbside pickup;
  • Piloting “micro fulfillment centers” within supercenters to speed up fulfillment of pickup and delivery orders; and
  • Deploying digitization, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to make stores smarter.

Walmart Canada will augment and modernize its supply chain with
the construction of two new distribution centers equipped with
next-generation automation, and the implementation of new warehouse management
systems at DCs to help meet the needs of omnichannel consumers.

“Today’s significant investment will position us for future growth and make Walmart Canada even better for our associates and our customers,” said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO of Walmart Canada in a statement. “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.”

More than 150 of Walmart Canada’s 408 stores
are targeted for renovation. Smart-store tech will include robotics, expanded
electronic shelf labels, shelf scanners to monitor product volumes and AI-powered
computer vision to turn visual information into actionable data. Expanded
checkout options designed to reduce human-to-human contact will include bigger
self-checkout areas, tap-to-pay and “Check Out With Me” technology, to allow
customers to pay for merchandise anywhere in the store with mobile devices carried
by store associates.

Adoption of curbside pickup has accelerated throughout the
retail world during the pandemic, and Walmart Canada will expand the company’s
Pickup offering to have it available at approximately 270 stores by the
end of 2020. The retailer will invest in features such as advanced notification
for customers, improvements in fulfillment center operations to increase speed
and trackability and a pilot of micro fulfillment centers located in the
backrooms of supercenters.

On the distribution front, Walmart Canada will open a 300,000-square-foot
DC that is already under construction in British Columbia in 2022, and build a
next-generation 550,000-square-foot DC outside Toronto that is slated to
open in 2024. By early 2021, new automated systems will be deployed in the
Cornwall DC in eastern Ontario to manage apparel, health and beauty, and small
general merchandise items.

New WMS and transportation management systems will use telematics and IoT sensors to give real-time information on the quality and freshness of products traveling in truck trailers; AI software to more accurately predict and plan inventory volumes; and a blockchain solution for transportation payments. To improve training of DC and fleet operations personnel, Walmart Canada will use machine-learning-based training software from Axonify.

“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,” said John Bayliss, SVP, Logistics and Supply Chain in a statement. “This
investment will transform our supply chain and create hundreds of Canadian
construction jobs along the way.”

Over the past five years, the retailer has put $1
(Canadian) into remodeling and opening stores.

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