SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) – Beginning this summer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will be testing the option for consumers to be able to order product on its website and then have it kept in a physical locker at the store. Buyers can then pick up their products without having to wait in line or talk to a store clerk.
The test, which will be conducted in about a dozen stories in an undisclosed market, is part of the world’s largest retailer’s overall strategy to offer increasingly demanding web-savvy shoppers the ability to shop any way they want.
Additionally, the company is expanding its offerings online and improving a new “scan and go” shopping app so customers can immediately download coupons personalized to them.
Officials disclosed the moves Tuesday at a media event at its company's global e-commerce offices in San Bruno, Calif., located in Silicon Valley.
The six-story offices, which house more than 1,000 employees ranging from engineers to merchandisers, includes (at)WalmartLabs, where many of the shopping innovations are coming from. It was formerly a web analytics company called Kosmix which the discounter purchased in 2011 and then renamed (at)WalmartLabs.
With the test of the new lockers, Wal-Mart is catering to shoppers who want to be left alone when they buy. Joel Anderson, president and CEO of walmart.com's U.S. division, says that 75 percent of its shoppers want to buy interrupted.
The new tests with lockers work like this: once shoppers buy the product online, they're emailed a password. They then can go to the store to pick up the items that are stored in the locker. Anderson says that lockers will vary in size, and the company is still figuring out where to locate them.
The service is an evolution of another shopping option called "site to store" launched in 2007 where shoppers can order online and then pick up the items at a special counter within two weeks. The company has also been testing an option where shoppers can pick up their purchases they bought online at select FedEx locations.
"The customer is in charge," Anderson. "The customer wants to control their own environment."