GERMANTOWN -- Big-box retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has rolled out a 16-foot-tall, self-service kiosk that fulfills online orders in as little as a minute at its Germantown supercenter, which will be the first Walmart in the state to feature such technology.
The retail giant recently started experimenting with these high-tech vending machines, called Pickup Towers, with the objective of providing an easy, fast and convenient way for customers to pick up their online orders, in store.
The Germantown location, W190 N9855 Appleton Ave., will boast one of around 15 towers that Wal-Mart is testing across several key markets, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman told TODAY’S TMJ4 partner, the Milwaukee Business Journal.
To use the Pickup Tower, shoppers order their goods online, select the Pickup option at checkout and then receive a barcode via their smartphone. When they arrive at the store, the customer scans that code into the Pickup Tower, which then retrieves the package for the shopper. Walmart associates load all the online orders into the Pickup Tower.
"Very simply put, you walk in, you have a code. You walk up to the machine, enter your information and it finds your packages. You just grab it out of the machine and walk out,” Germantown store manager Mark Tulod told the Milwaukee Business Journal.
As online shopping becomes more habitual for consumers, retailers with large brick-and-mortar footprints are experimenting with ways to implement their buy-online, pick up in-store initiatives so it's convenient enough to entice customers to use that option. Walmart has also toyed with other ways to fulfill the in-store pick-up process, including piloting self-service lockers.
"Based on the response from our customers, we’re continuing to expand the initial test of our Pickup Towers to markets across the country," Wal-Mart's spokeswoman said in a statement. "There are many considerations to market selection and we’re excited to bring this new technology to Wisconsin."
In addition to the new automated Pickup Tower in Germantown, the company will also be unveiling its Walmart Online Grocery Pickup service at six Milwaukee-area grocery stores in late July. That offering permits shoppers to choose their groceries online, set a pick-up time and then pick up their goods at that designated period without having to leave their car. As part of the service, store associates load all the groceries into the customer's vehicle.
The Germantown Pickup Tower will officially debut on Wednesday. The grocery pickup service will launch at Walmarts in Germantown, Hartford, Waukesha, Mukwonago, Muskego and New Berlin.