A newly remodeled Wal-Mart in Muhlenberg Township is the company’s first store in Pennsylvania that enables customers to order online and pick up their items at a high-tech vending machine inside the store.
The Reading-area store expects to formally launch the kiosk, which Wal-Mart calls a pickup tower, during a celebration of its remodel Aug. 30, said Ben Hardin, e-commerce market coach for 66 Wal-Mart stores in Pennsylvania.
The pickup towers, part of a trial run in 40 stores in test markets across the country, are a way Wal-Mart is addressing consumers’ demand for speed and convenience in shopping, Hardin said.
“We heard our customers. They said they wanted faster service,” he said.
Although customers still need to visit the store to pick up their items, Hardin said Wal-Mart’s towers make the experience a fast, smooth process “no matter how they want to shop.”
The bright orange towers, which are 16 feet high and 8 feet wide, are placed near the front entrance.
Customers use the free service by ordering from Wal-Mart’s website on their computer or smartphone. When they visit the store, they scan the barcode sent to them or type in a name or order number, and the tower delivers the order in a minute or less. Since customers have already paid for the items online, they can simply pick up and leave.
Hardin said customers at the Muhlenberg Township store are getting their items in 10 seconds.
Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., plans to install pickup towers in 60 more stores nationwide by the end of the year, Hardin said.
Wal-Mart has 138 stores in Pennsylvania.