All hail the Claw
Walmart recently began testing a gigantic beam-like vending machine for online orders at an Arkansas location, close to their headquarters in Bentonville.
Ostensibly, this is an experiment to determine the next steps towards successfully breaking into the growing market of online delivery and pick-up services. While Walmart currently has a pick up service at a number of locations across the country, the vending machine may be an attempt to appeal to millennials. Many millennials choose to spend their money at online outlets, through apps and easy one-touch ordering services. This generation seems to enjoy the increasing number of ways they can make their online purchases.
No human interaction necessary
If you visit the Walmart home page, you’ll see a friendly and insistent message located just below the search bar: “Pick it up TODAY!” From there, customers local to this Arkansas store can select from an already wide number of products, from diapers to iPhones. However, the vending machine service does not yet include perishable items.
Once your order has been placed, in-store employees work through your list to get you the items you need. Your items are then carefully packed and stored inside the machine.
When customers arrive at the store, they’ll find the large orange column that is the vending machine standing floor to ceiling towards the entrance to the store – it’s hard to miss. At the front of the machine stands a tablet-like device that allows customers to locate the order they placed online. Once they’ve entered their designated order number, the machine works to locate the order and vend it directly to them.
Still in the competition
In its current iteration, the vending machine model may be better suited to serve busy families who need shopping done the day of their orders being placed, and don’t have the time to wait for service in the pick-up line.
There’s still plenty of room for Walmart to compete with large online retailers, as well as brick and mortar services.
Their recent purchase of Jet.com back in August of this year is already showing promise. Combined with a potentially wide ranging implementation of the vending machines across the country, this acquisition could dramatically help Walmart fill in e-commerce spaces that seemed to elude them in the past.