Walmart to Invest $14B in Automation, Supply Chain

The company's domestic e-commerce sales jumped nearly 80% last year.

Walmart is going all-in on becoming faster.

Amid constant innovation from Amazon, the world’s largest retailer shared insights Thursday about its plans to invest nearly $14 billion in automation technologies and improving its supply chain network.

Walmart said the investment will be primarily in the U.S. and focus on improving automation utilization and building supply chain capacity to stay ahead of demand and increase productivity.

In its fourth quarter earnings presentation, CFO Brett Briggs said Walmart’s 2020 revenue increase put the company at least a year ahead of where it expected to be. That’s driven the decision to become more aggressive in key markets with increased capital and fulfillment capacity, supply chain, automation and technology. 

He said the company will step up automation in distribution centers to deliver aisle- and department-ready pallets to stores, while expanded e-commerce assortment will reduce both shipping times and costs. Meanwhile, existing stores will get enhanced pickup and delivery capacity, merchandising programs, and efficiency initiatives.

To that end, Briggs said, “Now is the time to play even more aggressive offense. We're winning and we intend to keep pushing the ball aggressively down the field. Over the next few years, we're going to step up capital investment, primarily in the US, to improve the customer experience, support growth and drive efficiencies.”

Briggs said the investments should position Walmart for at least 4% annual growth in sales and operating profit, which would equate to adding a Fortune 100 company each year.

Walmart had 2020 total revenue of $559 billion, up nearly 7% from 2019. In the U.S., comparable sales grew 8.6%, and U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 79%.

Walmart is also raising the average wage of its associates to above $15 per hour.

More in Video