A New Era of Fulfillment: Introducing Walmart’s Next Generation Fulfillment Centers
By David Guggina, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Automation, Walmart U.S.
June 3, 2022
“Trust” is a common word that carries uncommon weight at Walmart. While there are countless ways we strive to earn customers’ trust, delivering on our promise of fast shipping and delivery has never been more important to us. Today we use our 31 dedicated eCommerce fulfillment centers and 4,700 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population to fulfill online orders at exceptional speed. But we’re not stopping there.
We know we must constantly exceed our customers’ expectations, which
is why I’m thrilled to announce we’re building four next generation
fulfillment centers (FCs) over the next three years, with the first
opening this summer in Joliet, Illinois. These FCs will be the first
of their kind for Walmart, using the powerful combination of people,
robotics, and machine learning to set an entirely new precedent for
us on the speed of fulfillment while continuing to create a positive
work environment for our associates.
Here’s how our patent-pending, five-step process works:
Receive: At receiving, an associate breaks the case apart and places the individual items into a tote. The tote is whisked away into a massive, automated storage system where a shuttle transports it to one of millions of designated locations. The storage system is designed to account for every square-inch, spanning from floor to ceiling in a custom-built structure designed to hold the inventory.
Pick: When a customer places an online order, the system goes into action, retrieving their items and shuttling the needed totes to an associate at a picking station. This is a huge win for our associates, who traditionally would have walked up to nine miles per day, picking items from multiple floors of shelving spread out over hundreds of thousands of square feet of space.
Pack: Simultaneously, a custom box is created to fit the exact measurements of the order. In the pack area, we estimate associates can assemble up to four orders at once and send packages to be shipped in less than 30 minutes after the customer clicks to order.
Ship: The completed order is then automatically taped, labeled, and routed to its designated zone where it’s then shipped to its final destination.
this point you may be wondering, “Why only four FCs?” Our priority
is to strategically locate our FCs to pair most effectively with our
4,700 stores and 210 distribution centers. Together, this system of
fulfillment assets is optimized to get orders to customers fast and
efficiently. In this way we show our customers they need to look no
further than Walmart to get what they need, when they need it.