As part of Walmart Canada's new $3.5 billion investment into its Canadian operations, the retail giant has announced it will be building a sprawling 550,000-square-foot distribution centre in Vaughan.

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The investment, which will be implemented over the next five years, is aimed to generate significant growth and to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster, and more convenient for customers.

According to Walmart, the investment will impact every aspect of the business leading to a faster e-commerce experience, two new distribution centres to speed up the flow of products, re-invented and “smarter” stores, an enhanced Omni experience, and modern digital tools to ensure associates can best serve customers.

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The new distribution centre in Vaughan will join a 300,000-square-foot facility currently under construction in Surrey, BC and major upgrades to a third facility in Cornwall, ON, which is located near the Quebec border.

The 550,000-square-foot distribution centre in Vaughan will be located at 11110 Jane Street (400 Highway and Teston Road) and the company says it's slated to open in 2024.  This facility will leverage next-generation automation and technology working with Vanderlande, a material handling and logistics automation company based in the Netherlands.

What's more, the investment will also create hundreds of Canadian construction jobs and forge new partnerships with Canadian technology companies.

The investment will help improve distribution centre system through the following new leading-edge technologies:

  • New next-generation warehouse management systems which are Omni capable in meeting the future needs of both physical stores and e-commerce;
  • Investing in telematics and “internet of things” sensors across over 2,200 trailers to give real-time information around the quality and freshness of its deliveries;
  • Launching world-leading artificial intelligence software in partnership with o9 to more accurately predict and better plan volume to ensure Walmart’s customers get what they want, when they want;
  • Scaling the blockchain transportation payments platform with Toronto based DLT Labs – the world’s biggest blockchain solution for transportation payments system;
  • Using new machine learning training software to support improved training and safety on the front lines of our distribution centre and fleet operations with Axonify, a Waterloo-based micro-frontline learning company.

“Millions of customers choose to shop with us in-store and online every day – and that’s a tremendous honour,” said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada.

“Today’s significant investment will position us for future growth and make Walmart Canada even better for our associates and our customers. We are doubling down on our focus on the customer experience – not just to keep up but to lead and to be the very best in Canada.”

Other major components of the $3.5-billion in investments include:

Reinvented, modernized “stores of the future”:

  • Renovating over 150 stores over the next three years – over one-third of the store network;
  • New investments are in addition to over $1 billion invested into remodelling and opening stores over the past five years;
  • Accelerating digitization to create “smarter stores”, including:
    • Expanded electronic shelf labels, shelf scanners to monitor product volumes, robotics and computer vision cameras to simplify, minimize touches and maximize efficiency and accuracy;
    • A new checkout experience to reduce touchpoints, including tap-to-pay, new bigger self-checkout and “Check Out With Me” mobile payment technology to allow associates to check out customers anywhere in the store.

Accelerating the Omni offering for customers and creating thousands of new Omni associate jobs:

  • Expanding the full “Walmart Pickup” offering to approximately 270 stores – or 70% of locations – by end of 2020;
  • Piloting “hybrid locations” – supercentres with “micro fulfilment centres” in their backroom to increase the speed of fulfilment for pickup and delivery;
  • Investing in new technology to:
    • Accelerate the pickup experience, including advanced notification;
    • Improve our fulfilment centre operations to increase speed and trackability.

“The retail business is as dynamic as ever and this investment ensures we’re developing a supply chain that is the envy of the world," said John Bayliss, Senior Vice President, Logistics and Supply Chain, Walmart Canada.

"The better the supply chain, the quicker our customers can get the products they want. This investment will transform our supply chain and create hundreds of Canadian construction jobs along the way.”

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