This new order fulfillment system is truly game-changing.
Walmart Unveils Store-Based Order Fulfillment Center in its Hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, the retail giant announced on Monday. Known as the Order Fulfillment Center, this facility will enable an increase in the daily volume of orders that can be fulfilled by the store while freeing up store associates to focus on other tasks, the company stated. It is the second market-based center for Walmart nationwide, the first being a pilot center in Salem, New Hampshire.
Like the Salem center, the Bentonville facility incorporates a patented storage and retrieval system called Alphabot. Developed by Alert Innovation, a robotics automation specialist, the system was specifically designed for Walmart and later acquired by the retail company.
With the opening of the Bentonville center, Walmart moves one store closer to its plan of adding market-based order fulfillment centers to dozens of stores beyond Salem, which first launched in 2019. Last year, the company's blog stated that transferring Alert Innovation's technology and capabilities to the domestic market would help expedite the future deployment of these centers.
"This new order fulfillment system is truly game-changing," said Ryan Simpson, store manager at the Bentonville location, in a statement. "Not only does it enhance the customer experience through quicker, more accurate online order fulfillment, it also provides us the runway to continue growing our business now and in the future."
The typical order fulfillment process involves store associates picking items, but in the market-based fulfillment center, automated bots retrieve items from the facility. The items are then delivered to a workstation for order assembly.
"Once the order is collected, the system stores it until it’s ready for pickup," according to a 2021 company blog post. "This whole process can take just a few minutes from when the order is placed to when it’s ready for a customer or delivery driver to collect."
It is an opportune time for Walmart to expedite its stores' online order fulfillment process, as the company's sales through store delivery have nearly tripled and surpassed $1 billion per month.