We are committed to exceeding customers’ expectations and serving them in new ways, whether it’s in a store, curbside or at their homes. For years, we have been making big investments in technology and infrastructure across our supply chain to test and learn where we can make the biggest difference in fulfilling customer orders. In recent years, we’ve announced investments in technology for our regional distribution centers and next-generation fulfillment centers. Our market fulfillment centers, or MFCs, are a continuation of these efforts.
Today, we are announcing a step forward in the evolution of our supply chain and MFCs. I’m pleased to announce that Walmart has agreed to acquire Alert Innovation, a robotics automation company that develops material-handling technology for automating order fulfillment in retail supply chains. Walmart has been working with Alert to customize technology for our MFCs since 2016. Further investing in this technology will enable us to leverage our store footprint – 4,700 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population – for storage and fulfillment. For customers, this means orders can be fulfilled quickly and conveniently through pickup and delivery, giving them the items they want, when and where they want them. This system also enhances the experience for associates, who are integral to helping us perfect the system.
In late 2019, we began piloting our first MFC in Salem, New Hampshire, using bot technology from Alert specifically built for Walmart. The bot technology is notable within the industry, due to its fully autonomous bots that store, retrieve and dispense orders by moving horizontally, laterally and vertically across three temperature zones without any lifts or conveyors. This provides fewer space constraints inside the MFC and eliminates the need to pause the entire system for bot maintenance.