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Walmart going high tech with order pickups

Walmart vending machine to get your online orders faster

It may sound like a high-tech dream, but these machines, known as Pickup Towers, became a reality in nearly 200 of our stores over the last year.
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It may sound like a high-tech dream, but these machines, known as Pickup Towers, became a reality in nearly 200 of our stores over the last year.

Pretty soon, the days when you wandered the aisles of a store looking for something will be just a memory.

With retailers putting more of the shopping experience on you in terms of checkout and delivery options, Walmart is keeping firmly on the march with new technology.

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This month, it announced on its blog that it's bringing what it calls "Pickup Towers" to more stores.

How it works: You order something from Walmart online and then go to the store to pick it up at the tower. A code scanned from your smartphone sends your package down the tower to you.

To handle bulk items, Walmart is adding storage lockers to stores with towers, "making it just as easy to pick up that new TV as it is to pick up a new baseball glove," according to the blog.

The towers were placed in 200 of its stores last year.

Now, the retailer is adding 500 nationwide, and some Washington state stores are set to add the towers this year. Timeline details and locations were not immediately available.

"With this expansion, Pickup Towers will be available to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population," Walmart's blog noted.

The retailer, which streamlined its return process last year, has continued to invest in easier ways for people to interact with Walmart without venturing all that far into a store.

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And, they're not done. According to the blog: "We’re even testing additional concepts, similar to the Pickup Tower, that could make picking up your online order even better in the future."

Walmart also is in the process of expanding online grocery delivery, with same-day delivery for a $9.95 fee and minimum $30 order. In a partnership with Postmates delivery fleet, the retailer plans to expand deliveries to more than 40 percent of U.S. households. Walmart already offers online pickup at more than 1,000 stores, with 1,000 more to be added this year.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell
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