American multinational retail corporation, Walmart is building warehouses with a high-tech spin in hopes of delivering items to customers more quickly and growing its online business.
The retailer said Friday it plans to build four new fulfillment centers that use automation to pack and ship online orders more efficiently, with the first location opening this summer in Illinois.
For customers, the new warehouses will mean next-day or two-day delivery could be more common for items including cereal and T-shirts.
The plans come as Walmart competes with online retail giant Amazon, which has made it easy for customers with Prime memberships to order a wide range of items and have them delivered within a day or so.
With more of Walmart’s sales coming from its website in recent years, it already has 31 facilities that prepare online orders.
More than 3,500 of its stores, or about 75 percent of its locations, also fulfill online orders. But at Walmart’s existing fulfillment centers, employees can walk nine miles or more a day to pluck items off shelves and lug them back to areas for packaging, said Michael Prince, Walmart’s vice president of supply chain innovation and automation.
Walmart tested the concept at a fulfillment center in Pedricktown, New Jersey, and it recently said it will hire 4,000 people to work at the new facilities.
The current starting pay at existing warehouses is $16 to $28 per hour, and wages at the new ones will be at the higher end of that range, the company said.
The retailer declined to share construction costs. However, Walmart stores will still play a role in the company’s supply chain and handle online orders with popular items along with chilled and frozen groceries.