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Walmart moves more online orders to curbside as it phases

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Walmart says the new design will create a “seamless” omni shopping experience with more self-checkout kiosks and contactless payment options. USA TODAY

Walmart is kicking more online pickup orders to the curb.

Instead of having consumers collect the orders in orange, 16-foot-tall automated pickup towers in select stores, more orders will now be retrieved for curbside pickup as the retail giant phases out the towers.

The pickup towers, which are like large vending machines that dispense orders, were first added to stores in 2017. The Wall Street Journal first reported that the towers located at the front of more than 1,500 stores were in the process of being phased out.

Walmart confirmed to USA TODAY Thursday that about 300 machines are being removed from stores and around 1,300 are in “hibernation” and not in use.

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“The customer told us they want one pickup spot, and they want that pickup spot to be outside,” Walmart said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Walmart is phasing out its automated pickup towers.

Walmart is phasing out its automated pickup towers. (Photo: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY)

On-demand grocery shopping for delivery and curbside pickup grew dramatically amid the COVID-19 pandemic as some shoppers looked to make fewer trips into stores.

The pandemic also sped up Walmart’s plans to integrate its former grocery app with its main app because of a surge in online and mobile shopping, Walmart Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside told USA TODAY last year.

In the combined app, consumers can shop for groceries and items in other categories to be picked up curbside or delivered with an appointment time.

In September, the retailer launched its Walmart+ membership program for $98 a year, or $12.95 per month, with unlimited free delivery from stores (on orders $35 or more), fuel discounts and a new Scan & Go feature for in-store shopping.

Walmart curbside pickup guide

The Walmart app and website have two different places to place orders: one for Walmart.com orders that are either shipped to someone’s home or can be picked up at stores and the other for pickup and delivery orders.

The pickup and delivery, which on the website is at www.walmart.com/grocery, is where the bulk of the grocery items can be purchased, including produce, refrigerated and frozen items.

For these orders, shoppers need to select an appointment time and have an order of at least $35 to checkout. Some stores also offer an express pickup option to get orders within two hours with no minimum but a surcharge.

The Walmart.com pickup orders were previously retrieved in the pickup towers or in another designated area. Now moved curbside, these orders do not have a minimum purchase requirement, and there are no appointments.

At checkout, Walmart indicates when the order is expected to be available and that it will be held for four days. When orders are ready, consumers receive notifications with instructions on where to go.

For both types of orders, consumers follow the orange signs to the designated curbside pickup area and check in on the app when they arrive. They then type in the number of the curbside spot parked in.

Hours can vary when orders can be picked up, but most stores’ curbside pickup should be available between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, Walmart confirmed to USA TODAY. 

Stores also offer a pickup hour from 7 to 8 a.m. daily for customers over 60, those with disabilities and in high-risk groups for being vulnerable to COVID-19, first responders, pregnant women and caregivers of newborns under 3 months.

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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/shopping/2021/04/22/walmart-online-order-curbside-pickup-delivery/7327909002/

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