Walmart vending machine retrieves groceries

Walmart is expanding a test of automated grocery kiosks.

The company is testing a second version of the concept, which serves as a vending machine for online grocery orders, at a Walmart supercenter in Sherman, Texas.

The kiosks allow customers to pick up online grocery orders within seconds, without interacting with employees.

Here’s how it works: customers purchase and pay for groceries online, then Walmart employees pick and pack their orders and store them in bins in the 11-foot-by-127-foot kiosk, which is attached to the Sherman store.

The kiosk has refrigerators and freezers inside that keep the groceries fresh.

When customers arrive to pick up their orders, they walk up to the kiosk and scan a barcode located on the “order ready” email from Walmart. Their groceries will appear within one minute, bagged and ready to load into their cars.

The kiosk retrieves customers’ grocery orders within a matter of seconds.

Walmart tested its first automated grocery kiosk in Oklahoma last year. The new version is bigger and can serve five customers simultaneously. The first version could serve only two customers at once.

“Not only do customers not have to wait for an associate to bring them their order, but they also never need to set foot inside the store,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “The whole process can take less than a minute and we’ll be adding more pickup times soon to allow customers to pickup their orders anytime … day or night.”

There is no cost for picking up groceries, but customers must spend at least $30 per order to use the service.

Walmart is rolling out a similar, though smaller, structure in 700 of its stores for picking up non-grocery online orders.

The pickup kiosks are part of a broader effort by Walmart to more seamlessly integrate its online and offline services and leverage the power of its vast network of stores to better compete with Amazon.

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