Walmart talks omni-channel on Q2 call; testing site-to-store lockers

New York -- Walmart is expanding its omni-channel integration by testing the use of lockers to fill online orders, company officials said during the chain’s second-quarter earnings call on Thursday.

“While this test is still in the early stages, the initial read on customer satisfaction and acceptance is very encouraging, with 90% of the customers who have used the service providing positive feedback,” Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during the call.

The test is taking place in Washington, D.C., where the chain is on track to open three stores. But three additional planned locations are on hold pending the mayor’s decision to sign or veto a bill passed by the city council that would require big-box retailers to pay a minimum of $12.50 an hour.

Walmart has been vehement in its opposition to the “Living Wage” bill.

Simon said Wal-Mart views its physical stores as a significant competitive advantage for its Walmart.com business. In the past quarter the chain has expanded its “Ship from Store” program, and an increasing percentage of all items shipped to customers’ homes are now fulfilled through the program, with most orders delivered in two days or less.

Neil Ashe, CEO of Walmart Global e-Commerce, said on the call that the company is continuing to invest in its global technology platform. He also discussed Walmart’s “Pick Up Today” program, which offers customers same-day, in-store pick-up of select items. Ashe said the chain has more than tripled the items available in the program since the beginning of the year.

“We have also developed a new capability that automatically searches our broader inventory for an item if that item is not available in a customer’s primary store. That has significantly improved our fill rate,” Ashe said during the call.