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Walmart’s Grocery Picking Efficiency Far Outpaces the Competition

The nation’s largest food retailer is three times more efficient picking groceries than Kroger while reducing out of stocks for online orders.

For those who wonder why Walmart is such a force to be reckoned with in the grocery industry, comments from Barclay’s Karen Short after a retail field trip in Charleston, SC, make it painfully apparent for their competition. Ms. Short talked about the evolution of Walmart’s grocery e-commerce operations and how ahead of their peers they are:

“Efficient picking: Associates who pick grocery orders are equipped with the tools to make picking orders very efficient/accurate, allowing for the picking of up to 8 orders (3 associates across 3 temperature ranges) within a 15-20 minute time frame. To elaborate, each associate picks up to 8 orders at a time within one temperature range, and is directed, via a handheld device, exactly where to find items in the store (using a precise aisle/shelf labeling system) with the most efficient picking route mapped out by Walmart. Other temperature zones include frozen and refrigerated. Each customer’s order is then combined across temperature ranges for customer delivery/pickup — so in theory — 3 associates pick 8 orders in 20 minutes — or 24 orders in 1 hour. This compares to Kroger — where we were told one associate picks 1 order per hour. To state the obvious — this picking efficiency puts Walmart well ahead of peers.”

Additionally, Walmart’s integration of inventory data on a real time basis has reduced its out of stocks and substitutions in online orders. If particular items are in danger of being out of stock, that time is automatically removed from the e-commerce site until in-store stocks return to a viable level. “This is a significant advantage over retailers that use Instacart for e-commerce operations given Instacart’s lack of visibility into retailers’ inventory,” noted Ms. Short.

Thus, while traditional retailers are rightfully concerned with the expanded operations of Amazon’s grocery business online and via Whole Foods, Walmart continues to raise the bar using technology and its brick and mortar retailing expertise.