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Walmart has announced the launch of its ‘InHome Delivery’ service next Autumn.

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Walmart joins MediLedger, a consortium that aims to build a blockchain for tracking pharmaceutical supply chains.

Beyond IBM Food Trust

The new inititiative is not Walmart’s first push into blockchain. The US retailer has already been working with IBM Food Trust to create a platform which helps bring food traceability. Similarly, MediLedger is aiming to create an “open and decentralised network for the pharmaceutical supply chain”. The consortium already includes major pharma companies such as Pfizer, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen and Premier Inc, which are all in the process of testing the new platform.

Walmart’s involvement in the consortium shows its commitment to be involved in technology. It has already filed 50 blockchain patents related to tracking shipments and operating drones, amongst other aspects.

Pilot to begin in June

Mediledger is due to kick-start the pilot in June, alongside the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) and will aim to reach their 2023 target (to deliver an interoperable, digitized system for tracking and verifying prescription drugs). The fact that a significant retailer such as Walmart has joined the consortium will help MediLedger drive this initiative and bring blockchain technology to the pharmaceutical supply chain.

“The pilots only really make sense if you are working with a group of collaborators”, said Eric Garvin, co-lead of MediLedger.

Several retailers are already involved in blockchain technology. Please visit our Transformed by technology hub for more details.

Walmart has announced the appointment of Suresh Kumar as its new elevated Chief Technical Officer and Chief Development Officer.

25 years of technology experience

Mr Kumar brings more than 25 years of technology experience, having previously worked with Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM. His 15 years with Amazon will be particularly attractive to Walmart, having most recently held the position of VP, Worldwide Retail Systems and Retail Services. Prior to this, he looked after Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems. He joins Walmart while its customer and associate experiences are being rapidly overhauled.

Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart, said: “The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible. We want to take full advantage of those opportunities. Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud and machine learning. And, he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results.”

Walmart said that it aims, under Kumar, to bring together its four technology organisations: Global Business Services, Walmart Labs, Sam’s Club Technology and International technology.

The hire comes at a point of time when Walmart is competing with Amazon across several fronts, such as e-commerce, omnichannel, logistics and brick-and-mortar operations.

Mr Kumar said: “Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers, and today, it is in the midst of a very exciting digital transformation. With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth eCommerce business and more than two million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled, and I am excited to be part of this.”

Kumar holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Check out our Walmart hub for more related news.

The US wholesaler has converted its latest store into a fulfilment center for online orders in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Fourth store to re-open as a fulfilment centre

The 139,000 square foot location has been closed last January for the purpose of being reconverted into a new fulfilment centre. The move is part of Walmart’s plan to close 63 Sam’s Club stores and convert some of them into online fulfilment centres.

Worcester’s site is the fourth to be converted into a fulfilment centre after Memphis (Tennessee), Matteson (Illinois) and Fort Worth (Texas).

Between 1,500 and 2,000 products to be processed  

The average fulfilment centre is able to handle about 1,500 to 2,000 products including coffee, cereal and household products. It is expected that 5 to 8 truckloads of online orders will be dispatched daily from the new facility in Worcester.

Laying foundation for quicker deliveries

Walmart’s aim is to provide Sam’s Club with the necessary infrastructure to be able to offer quicker deliveries. Essentially, Walmart is taking advantage of the abundance of its available real estate to convert into online fulfilment centres and has made sure to position them in the right markets with easy geographic access to make the biggest impact possible.

Meanwhile, what is the competition doing?

The move comes weeks after Amazon’s push for one-day shipping. Meanwhile, Kroger is committed to building 20 fulfilment centres that are powered by Ocado.  At the same time, Ahold Delhaize is opting for several automated micro-fulfilment centres for Stop & Shop and, if the strategy is deemed successful, it can be rolled out to other ensigns. In addition, Albertsons has been testing an automated micro-fulfilment facility in a hope to reduce grocery costs for the company and its customers.

Check out our Walmart hub for more related news.

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