Walmart U.S. tests new collection device for online pickup in Rogers store

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 978 views 

Looking for ways to speed up and automate the pickup of online non-food orders (general merchandise), Walmart U.S. is testing a giant device that’s a cross between a huge Coke machine and bank ATM at Store No. 1 on West Walnut Street in Rogers.

The machine sits inside the store’s front door on the side of general merchandise. The bright orange collection device ascends into the store’s ceiling and has a television monitor on its front side. The machine is physically connected to the store’s back room inventory.

There is a kiosk positioned next the automated pickup machine where shoppers sign in by typing their last name. Shoppers are prompted to verify their order then an order number in receipt form is dispensed from the kiosk. The shopper scans the order receipt into the reader on the large automated pickup machine. The order will then be dispensed from the machine much like a can of soda.

The process should soon be fully automated, but the machine now requires a Walmart employee to help a customer with the process, according to a store employee.

This is a first test round of machine-dispensed orders by the retail giant. The test follows lockers that were in some stores. Walmart U.S. executives have said the retailer is trying to make pickup of general merchandise orders more convenient. The retailer had previously located the pickup desk at the back of the store near the electronics department. Staffing that pickup counter was complicated as there was no check-in required on the part of the shopper. Long wait times at the pickup desk have been a common complaint among users.

Walmart unveiled in June its pickup kiosk and waiting area at the front of the supercenter on Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers. At that time Walmart executives demonstrated the kiosk sign-in process by logging in their last name. But the plan at that time was to have the customer sit in a small waiting area until an employee brought their order up from the back of the store.

The newest online pickup test by Walmart U.S. sits inside the retailer’s supercenter on West Walnut Road in Rogers, Ark.
The newest online pickup test by Walmart U.S. sits inside the retailer’s supercenter on West Walnut Road in Rogers, Ark.

However, Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran wants to see more employees out in the store helping customers. The retailer hopes automation and consolidating more services is a way to best manage employee numbers and also provide more customer convenience. The newest version of “Walmart Pickup” could be virtually automated if the customer feedback is positive.

“Our free Pickup service is a popular way for people to save time and money. We know speed and convenience are important to our customers and we’re always looking for new ways to bring it to them. We are excited to be one of the first companies to test this new technology and are looking forward to hearing feedback from our customers and associates,” said corporate spokesman Kory Lundberg.

Walmart said millions of items are shipped to its stores for pickup each week and the retailer is continually seeking to make the process more convenient. The retail giant said the use of lockers and pickup waiting area in the front of store are all part of ongoing tests from which it will gather customer feedback.