Wal-Mart is looking to turn its huge brick-and-mortar retail footprint into a beneficial asset as it continues to battle against Amazon.com. And it’s latest effort to do so is an area where Amazon has already innovated: physical lockers.
Wal-Mart announced at an event in San Bruno, California today that it plans to begin testing a new locker service this summer that allows shoppers to order goods online, and then pick them up at a locker in a nearby store. The trial will take place at about a dozen stores.
Reuters reports that two thirds of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Wal-Mart. The giant Arkansas-based retailer has been shipping online orders to stores for about two years now, with plans to expand that program to about 50 stores this year, Reuters reports.
The lockers could add an interesting twist, potentially automating the process by which customers picked up packages.
This is certainly interesting news for us, since we started seeing some of the Amazon Lockers popping up around Seattle at 7-Eleven stores about 18 months ago. Since then, Amazon has been inking deals to put its lockers in various retail stores, including Staples and RadioShack. (I’ve often contended that if Amazon.com goes into brick-and-mortar retail it will do so with a highly-automated system that looks to disrupt current concepts around shopping. See our earlier story on Hointer, founded by a former Amazon executive, as an example of what I am talking about: “Amazon vet’s new robot-powered apparel startup aims to revolutionize how we buy clothes”).
It’s not just Amazon.com that’s eyeing this space. Earlier this year, Google purchased BufferBox, a Canadian rival to Amazon’s locker service.
Here’s GeekWire’s Todd Bishop initiating what we believed to be the first public test of an Amazon locker.
Previously on GeekWire: Walmart versus Amazon: The next great tech battle?