Shipping things to your house is so 2011, so companies like Amazon are setting up physical lockers for you to pick your online orders up from. Today, Walmart has announced that they’re testing a similar program in about twelve stores.
Basically, you can go online, order all of the things that you want, and your items will show up in this locker rather than your doorstep. This means that you can pick it up anytime you want, within two weeks. It’s a convenience thing for sure, and the reason why Google bought Y Combinator company Bufferbox and the reason why a company like Swapbox can emerge.
We’d show you what the lockers would look like, but Walmart PR didn’t have any photos available since they haven’t been rolled out. I tried to get an artist’s rendering, but it probably just looks something like this:
UPDATE: Our resident beautification expert, Bryce Durbin, has come up with an artistic rendering of what the Walmart lockers might look like:
Clearly, Walmart has a slew of stores, around 4,000, with the company telling us that two-thirds of the U.S. population is located near a Walmart store. That’s mind-boggling when you think about it. With as many potential customers as Walmart has, it’s key to be able to cater to all of the needs that shoppers have. Sure, there will still be people who like to come in and browse, but for most of what Walmart has, you just need to get it when you need it.
Walmart executives tell us that mobile is a huge part of the company’s future, allowing shoppers to scan items in and check out on their own. What does this move to automation mean for, you know, actual human beings who work there? We’re told that those folks will now have time to do other things like stock shelves.
One overheard quote from Walmart’s media day was “E-commerce brought the store to the web, but mobile takes the web to the store.” That’s an interesting concept for sure, especially when you open up the Walmart app and it enters “store mode.” Yes, a subset of Walmart stores are geo-fenced and will help you navigate around the aisles and pick up the things you need.
With so many stores, Walmart can do some interesting and wild testing to see what catches on. Will people want to order things and pick them up from a locker? Time will tell. What we do know is that the postal service as we know it is in serious trouble. With companies like Amazon and Walmart hacking the shipping system to bring items to people, seemingly overnight, it will be hard for the government to keep up.