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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 14, 202105:15 AM EST

Walmart adding robot-powered market fulfillment centers in Jacksonville

The retailer is building the online order pickup stations at Beach Boulevard and 103rd Street.

Walmart Inc. is rolling out its market fulfillment centers in Jacksonville.

Walmart said in January a market fulfillment center is a compact, modular warehouse built within, or added to, a store for faster order pickup. 

The city is reviewing civil engineering plans for the centers to be added to Walmart Supercenters at 13490 Beach Blvd. and 6767 103rd St.

The plans say Walmart proposes to build the additions for online order services.

Those services include on-site walk-up pickup, drive-thru pickup and local delivery services, described as direct delivery to customers or another Walmart store for pickup.

A Walmart illustration explaining its market fulfillment centers.

“In addition to fresh and frozen items, MFCs can store thousands of the items we know customers want most, from consumables to electronics,” said a Jan. 27 post by Tom Ward, Walmart U.S. senior vice president of customer product.

Walmart said that instead of an associate walking the store to fulfill an order from the shelves, automated bots retrieve the items from within the fulfillment center.

The items then are brought to a picking workstation, where the order can be assembled with speed.

“Our customers love the speed and convenience of pickup and delivery, and we’re committed to finding faster ways to serve them, which is why we’re scaling the number of stores that will also serve as market fulfillment centers,” Ward wrote.

“We’re already planning dozens of locations, with many more to come.”

Items inside the fulfillment center are stored in bins and retrieved by robots.

He said that while the system retrieves the order for assembly, a personal shopper picks fresh items like produce, meat and seafood, and large general merchandise from the sales floor.

When the order is collected, the system stores it until it is ready for pickup. 

“This whole process can take just a few minutes from the time the order is placed to the time it’s ready for a customer or delivery driver to collect,” Ward said.

The plans in review so far show that Walmart Stores East L.P. wants to add a 7,920-square-foot center at its Beach Boulevard store and a 4,928-square-foot addition at the 103rd Street location.

Automated bots retrieve the items inside the Walmart market fulfillment center.

CPH Inc. is the civil engineer.

Ward wrote that the centers will partner with technology companies to see what works best in markets.

“In some stores, we’ll be adding automated pickup points. Think of it as the ultimate convenience that allows customers and delivery drivers to drive up, scan a code, grab their order and go,” he said.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said it piloted the first market fulfillment center in late 2019 in Salem, New Hampshire.

Ward said the centers provide more product availability to customers; faster fulfillment with pickup or delivery within the hour; and efficiency because one center can fulfill orders for many stores.


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