Walmart's new automated drive-up 'kiosk' is the grocery store of the future

Walmart just made a surprise announcement — it has launched a drive-up 'kiosk' in Oklahoma City, one where customers are given their groceries in a pre-assembled package via an automated system. The actual shopping part of the buying arrangement is completed ahead of time via the company's website in the comfort of your home or office. If all this sounds familiar, that's because it is: Amazon is working on something similar, having just launched its own drive-up grocery store in Seattle.

This automated kiosk, which looks like a giant rectangular box plastered with Walmart imagery, is located in the parking lot of a Walmart Supercenter on Council Rd. in Oklahoma City. The building is 80ft x 20ft in size, and it is equipped with packaged bins full of ordered goods that can be selected on the website and picked up a short while later.

The available products include fresh goods like milk, meat, and dairy — basically everything available inside of the Supercenter. The selection process is performed by the Walmart associate who fulfills orders and packages them up in bins. Once the orders are all bundled up, the packages are taken to the kiosk, where the customer drives up to retrieve them.

A station of some sort is available on the side of the kiosk, where customers enter their unique pick-up code. The automated system then finds the correct package and brings it down to the customer, who can then put it in their car and drive away. The entire pick-up process is said to take only a few minutes at most.

It's easy to see the appeal of such a system, and it was only a matter of time before stores began to embrace such technology. Disabled and elderly individuals, for example, as well as anyone else with limited mobility, may experience a greater sense of independence thanks to this system. In the same way, such a kiosk is appealing to those who don't have much spare time. Even rapid shopping inside a grocery store can take 20 or 30 minutes, whereas orders available on demand require only several minutes.

Walmart says the kiosk is being tested in the aforementioned region for now, so don't expect to find one at your own local store. This isn't the only test the company is conducting, with Walmart officials telling local news station NewsOK that it is also testing other concepts in other markets. One is said to be a similar 'tower'-like kiosk that lets customers pick up general merchandise rather than groceries.


Image via NewsOK