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         Amazon, Walmart see online grocery shopping with food stamps surge amid coronavirus, reports say

         Walmart adds 'pop-up' direct-to-consumer fulfillment capacity at 42 distribution centers



Amazon, Walmart see online grocery shopping with food stamps surge amid coronavirus, reports say


Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Nov 12, 2020


Shopping for groceries online for delivery or curbside pickup has grown in popularity amid the coronavirus pandemic with many shoppers looking to make fewer trips to stores.


And using Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly referred to as food stamps, to pay for online grocery trips has been surging.


According to Bloomberg, more than 1 million U.S. households bought groceries online in September using SNAP benefits with the majority of those shoppers turning to Amazon and Walmart, which in most states are the only retailers to take part in the Department of Agriculture's online shopping pilot.


The USDA says that the online pilot is in 46 states and Washington D.C.  Alaska, Lousiana, Maine and Montana are the states not included in the pilot, according to the agency's website.


According to the USDA, only eligible food may be purchased with SNAP benefits and "delivery fees and other associated charges may not be paid for with SNAP benefits."


On Amazon's SNAP page, the online shopping giant says it now accepts SNAP EBT in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine and Montana.


In September, Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market opening its first permanent online-only store in Brooklyn, New York, to fulfill orders for grocery delivery.


Like other retailers' online-only stores, also known as dark stores, the Whole Foods store is not open to the public. It was being planned for before the pandemic, Nicole Wescoe, Whole Foods president for the Northeast region, previously told USA TODAY...


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Walmart adds 'pop-up' direct-to-consumer fulfillment capacity at 42 distribution centers


Matt Leonard, SupplyChainDive

Nov. 13, 2020


Dive Brief:


         Walmart is using space in 42 of its regional distribution centers to create" pop-up eCommerce Distribution Centers" meant to help handle the increased volume of e-commerce orders, the retailer announced Thursday.

         The "pop-up" model provides flexibility to the company's fulfillment capabilities and allows it to increase capacity when it is experiencing peak-level volume, Greg Smith, the executive vice president of supply chain at Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post.

         The regional distribution centers usually ship pallets of goods to stores and not individual SKUs to a consumer's home. Now the locations will handle both tasks and Walmart expects 30% of its holiday volume to be shipped from the pop-up locations.


Dive Insight:


Walmart's build-up of e-commerce fulfillment capacity is about more than physical infrastructure. Technology played an important role in the creation of the pop-up e-commerce DCs, Executive Vice President at Walmart Global Tech Srini Venkatesan wrote in a LinkedIn post.


"Our Multi-Channel Sourcing Engine (MCSE) scans the entirety of our fulfillment network in less than a second and will assign orders to these eDCs when it determines they offer the fastest and most efficient option to fulfill the order," wrote Venkatesan.


Venkatesan also credited improved pick times for popular SKUs and warehouse management technology for enabling e-commerce fulfillment from distribution centers.


The pop-up DCs are not meant to be permanent infrastructure for Walmart. Venkatesan said Walmart will have the ability to scale up and down with the demand the retailer is experiencing in its network.


By now it is no surprise the pandemic has led to an impressive uptick in online spending. E-commerce sales increase nearly 45% YoY in the second quarter to reach more than 16% of total sales, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.


Some in the industry sees the move by Walmart as an attempt to keep up its competition with Amazon.


This "is a direct shot across the bow to Amazon," Meyar Sheik, the president and chief commerce officer at Kibo...


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