Walmart testing new online shopping feature in Central Kentucky

LONDON, Ky. (WKYT) - As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, brick-and-mortar stores are having to adjust. For Walmart, that means making it easier to pick up online orders.

The Walmart in London was one of the first in Kentucky to test new Pickup Towers. You can't miss the 16-foot tower just inside the front doors. It works like a vending machine.

After placing an order online, a barcode is sent to the customer's smartphone. The customer then scans the barcode at the tower. From there, the machine identifies the customer and the product. A large arm inside retrieves the package and dispenses it to the customer.

Some items are too large to fit inside the tower. Those packages are placed in lockers near the tower. They too can be opened by scanning a barcode.

The system is fairly new. It's taking some getting used to, but Jamie Campbell, store manager at the London Walmart, says customers are adjusting.

"We've had some (packages) take as little as 30 seconds and we've had some that require some customer training," Campbell said. "But we want that, we want people to ask questions so we can provide answers."

Customers have voiced concerns about this new system taking away jobs, but Campbell says that's not the case.

"We still have our associates in the building selecting and retrieving those items for the customer and staging them in the robot. So, we still have the same amount of associates we had prior."

Testing is underway right now on larger machines with freezer and refrigerator systems to potentially expand the towers to grocery items as well.

The Walmart in Frankfort and the Walmart in Hamburg in Lexington also have Pickup Towers. It's part of a nationwide rollout of 500 towers in 40% of Walmart locations.

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