Big box retailers like Walmart and Target are continuing to look for ways to make a dent in Amazon.com’s ever-growing control of the retail market. Recently, Walmart has begun a new initiative that involved installing giant towers at the front of their stores.
These towers are designed to hold various items that customers have purchased online so that the customer can simply come into the store and pick up their purchase without ever having to speak to another human being. The future is now.
This tower system will be picking up the slack, pun most definitely intended, for the older pickup program that lacked finesse and convenience. You can check out this tower right here in Carroll County if you’re curious to see what it’s all about.
Walmart Has Been Working to Improve their Image
Back in the day, Walmart was seen as the enemy of small towns and rural America at large. They were the big, bad corporation putting the mom and pop shops out of business, which is certainly true. However, times have changed. A bigger, badder corporation has arrived at the party in the form of online shopping. Not to mention the fact that Walmart is about as popular with millennials as Spam.
However, Walmart have made a few interesting moves in the past few years. The pick up towers are certainly one of them, but the other interesting move that they’ve made is the Walmart Academy. This academy is designed to help people gain the skills they need to move up in the company. It’s an interesting venture that involves a full-scale graduation ceremony and it does seem to bolster confidence and opportunity where there was none.
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Vancouver Walmart Academy's first class parades through the store for graduation this morning at Vancouver Walmart Superstore. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) @alishajucevic #onassignment #walmart #walmartacademy #graduate #vanwa #vancouverlife #vancouverwashington #thecolumbian
They also have a program called Pathways for employees who lack basic reading and math skills to perform their jobs effectively. However, as this New York Times article states:
“But it’s not clear whether all this training is teaching workers valuable skills that could enable them to move into the middle class, or whether it is mostly making them better Walmart employees.”
Automation is the Future of Retail
Automatic services are the future, plain and simple. Whether that’s what the people want or not is hard to tell, but certain services like Peapod, Amazon.com, and other delivery services are popular. Walmart is currently testing a grocery pickup service that is set to roll out some time in the future. This push for automatic services is reflected throughout our modern world and it’s impossible to resist them in many ways.
The convenience of being able to pull up to a large vending machine and retrieve your online orders is really nice. It circumvents the perilous waiting period that comes with online delivery orders. Most likely, this was a plan to offer something that Amazon doesn’t, and in that, they are successful.
The only question is where we go from here.