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Why Is Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) Installing Self-Service Kiosks at Stores?


Photo Credit: Wal-Mart Stores

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) is installing giant self-service kiosks at its stores to make it easier for people to find and pick stuff ordered through the retailer’s website.

According to a report from Business Insider, the retailing giant first installed the kiosk at its store in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2016.

Wal-Mart is now building the self-service kiosks in more than a dozen stores in cities including Gilbert, Arizona; Glenpool, Oklahoma; Enterprise and Auburn, Alabama; Gwinnett County, Georgia; and Midlothian, Virginia, according to the report.

The kiosks, called Pickup Towers, are giant towers, with a 16-feet height and about 8-feet width. They are being built near store entrances.

To retrieve their online orders, customers need to scan a barcode on their purchase receipt. The machine takes 45 seconds to process the order and the items appear on a conveyer belt.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) is betting big on online shopping, online grocery pickup and two-day free shipping in a bid to compete with Amazon. EMarketer estimates that online spending is estimated to grow by 16% this year to reach $462 billion.

Last month, the company announced that it is testing delivery-by-employees program in a bid to “cut shipping costs and get packages” to customers’ doors “faster and more efficiently.” Under the program, employees can make some extra income by delivering online orders using their own cars to the customer’s house at the end of their shifts.

Wal-Mart has 4,700 stores across the U.S. and more than a million retail employees and about 90% of the population lives within 10 miles of a Wal-Mart store. The company is looking to use 4,700 stores and more than a million retail employees to compete with Amazon on the last mile of delivery.

Meanwhile, shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) were trading up 0.03% in the morning session. The stock is up more than 9% so far this year. During the last 12 months, the company’s share price has increased by 2.67%, while Amazon’s stock has surged over 32% in the same period.

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