Business

Who is Parcel? What This Delivery Company Means to Walmart

The newest member of the Walmart e-commerce family is Parcel, a technology based, same-day and last-mile delivery company specializing in perishable and non-perishable delivery to customers in New York City. They also provide services like scheduled evening delivery and custom text message notifications for high-growth e-commerce companies looking to differentiate their customer experience.

So, what does this all mean for Walmart? We caught up with Nate Faust, senior vice president, Walmart U.S. eCommerce Supply Chain, to find out.

Why acquire a delivery company?

Delivery is increasingly one of the most important elements for today’s online shoppers, as demands for speed, flexibility, and reliability continue to grow. That’s why my team spends a lot of time thinking about ways we can make deliveries faster and more convenient for customers. Parcel is a proven leader in e-commerce package delivery, including taking fresh, frozen and perishable food, the last mile – that is, the last step in the shipping process as products make their way from a fulfillment center to your door.

What are your plans for Parcel?

Parcel has partnerships with several meal kit, grocery and e-commerce companies, and has delivered more than 1 million meals in the past two years. So our immediate plan is for Parcel to continue serving its existing clients and growing its customer base. There’s a lot of upside and I’m excited about the potential there.

But I see even more upside for our own same-day deliveries. Jet has been testing free same-day delivery of certain orders to customers in New York City. We can build upon that and plan to leverage Parcel for last-mile delivery to customers in New York City – including same-day delivery – for both general merchandise as well as fresh and frozen groceries from Walmart and Jet.

Jesse Kaplan, CEO and Founder of Parcel

Can you tell us more about their operations today?

Parcel is a 24/7 operation that delivers packages the same day, overnight and in scheduled two-hour windows. They’ve built a technology platform from the ground up to automate their operations and provide clients and customers with live updates throughout the delivery process. From a warehouse in Brooklyn, Parcel receives packages destined for customers throughout New York City. Using routing algorithms, a fleet of leased trucks, and a professional, employee-based workforce, they’re able to quickly sort and load packages for delivery routes.

How much did Parcel’s New York location factor into the decision to acquire them?

New York City is the top market for both Jet and Walmart.com, and because of the density of the area – along with the proximity of our fulfillment centers – it’s the perfect place for high-impact innovation. Born and bred in New York City, Parcel has developed unique expertise delivering to customers in a distinctly challenging and essential market. This acquisition allows us to continue testing ways to offer fast delivery while lowering our operating costs.

Outside of large metro areas, do you think customers really want same-day delivery?

Customers’ expectations around delivery and what is possible have changed significantly in the past couple of years. Whatever they need and however they’d like it, we aim to provide – including the ability to offer last-minute ordering with same-day delivery service.

And while customers are looking for low prices, we also know they want convenient experiences that make shopping easier. It’s why we’ve focused on creating more options to meet their needs, such as our free two-day shipping to home, our pickup discount and free online grocery pickup service. It’s also the reason we’ve been testing a number of different innovations at Walmart and Jet to further enhance how we serve customers even faster, with programs ranging from associate delivery to in-building and in-fridge delivery with Latch and August Home. We’ll continue to explore more ways to give customers the freedom to choose how, when and where they receive their orders from us.

For additional facts about Walmart's acquisition of Parcel, check out this fact sheet.

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Innovation

My Journey From EE to IoT at Walmart’s DFW Tech Hub

Before I joined the team here, I had no idea how innovative a 50-year-old retail company could be.

Like most people, I had interacted with Walmart as a customer in stores and online but had never really thought about the systems and technology functioning behind the scenes to make the whole thing work.

As we officially open our new Walmart Technology satellite HQ in Plano, Texas, this week, I’m reflecting on my evolving, 20-year journey in tech — from building circuit boards to developing software to, now, exploring ways to apply advances in the internet of things (IoT), machine learning, object detection and other emerging technologies in the increasingly blended world of physical-digital retail.

Here’s a great example:

It might seem like a small thing, but spills are a big deal on the sales floor. So we developed a concept to help stores quickly detect spills, building a quick alert system that linked a camera with a Raspberry Pi and sensors that sent photos and data from the sales floor to the cloud. There, we deployed learning algorithms to analyze and build models that helped identify spills.

It wasn’t perfect – but it worked! And even though we won’t bring our prototype to life in stores at scale, we’re able to learn fast and apply those learnings to other projects — like using machine learning and IoT similar to our Raspberry Pi-based sensory concept to cut energy use and cost, all while keeping the temperature comfortable for associates and customers in our stores.

I’ve only been at Walmart four months, but it’s been a blast. I’m still blown away by the many different applications of emerging technology in something as simple as a retail store. But really, retail isn’t simple. It’s complex, the scale is insane and the industry is rapidly transforming. What an awesome time and place to experiment, innovate, fail fast and learn quickly.

It makes my brain happy, and I’m glad it’s happening here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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Business

The Baby-Soft Science Behind Parent’s Choice Wipes

New parents have enough on their minds – the price of high-quality, good-for-baby essentials shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s the thought behind our Parent’s Choice cotton baby wipes. They’re made with 99% pharmaceutical-grade purified water and plant-based ingredients, then pass through four levels of filtering and treatment. The result? An ultra-pure wipe that parents can trust to be safe and gentle on sensitive skin – at a great value.

Diaper changes are a time when every child deserves to be clean and comfortable so their skin remains naturally healthy. We trust the Nice Pak factory in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to create the best product possible. They don’t take shortcuts, so moms and dads who use Parent’s Choice cotton wipes can expect excellent care for their baby, every time.

Watch the story behind how Parent’s Choice cotton baby wipes are made.

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Innovation

Hundreds More High-Tech Pickup Towers are Headed Your Way

You know how handy vending machines can be when you’re craving a snack or a drink. But have you ever imagined a giant vending machine that could help you get your online orders faster and save you money on shipping?

It may sound like a high-tech dream, but these machines, known as Pickup Towers, became a reality in nearly 200 of our stores over the last year. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, more than half a million orders have been retrieved through the towers since we first introduced them.

Because of this success, we’re rapidly expanding this pickup program by adding more than 500 additional Pickup Towers to stores across the country, bringing the total to more than 700 by the end of the year. With this expansion, Pickup Towers will be available to nearly 40% of the U.S. population.

Our customers have been clear: They love the Pickup Tower. But, they also told us they wanted the ability to retrieve larger items the same way. That’s why every new Pickup Tower will come with Pickup Lockers, making it just as easy to pick up that new TV as it is to pick up a new baseball glove.

But why stop there? We’ve launched all kinds of innovative services for busy families, including Online Grocery Pickup, Pickup Discount, Mobile Express Scan & Go, our growing grocery delivery service and a new partnership with Google Express. We’re even testing additional concepts, similar to the Pickup Tower, that could make picking up your online order even better in the future.

As we continue to innovate, we’ll keep listening to our associates and customers to improve the Walmart experience – and who knows? – maybe next time you’re in a Walmart store you’ll be greeted by the newest way to save time and money.

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Community

This School-Run Garden is Helping Nourish an Arizona Community

Moencopi Day School in Tuba City, Arizona, has offered a garden learning program for over 10 years. But it was just last spring that student-grown produce first appeared on this elementary school’s cafeteria lunch line—a Hopi Nation first.

That special lunch was important for Moencopi Day School. For the fifth graders who made it happen, the impact came over months of learning and preparation. Guided by Steven Lomadafkie, a science and environmental educator at the school, and two AmeriCorps service members recruited and trained by FoodCorps, an organization connecting kids to healthier foods and the natural world, the students planted and tended lettuce, gaining skills and pride in the resulting harvest.

Through washing the greens and planning a school-wide party, the students built a connection with cafeteria staff—who saw the infectious enthusiasm kids could have for a vegetable. By modeling positive eating behaviors, these fifth graders became healthy food champions, spreading the joy of good nutrition to their peers. It’s the sum of these ongoing, school-wide experiences that shapes children’s eating habits and their lifelong benefits.

A belief in hands-on learning is something that Moencopi Day School is embracing in its second year of partnership with FoodCorps and local nonprofit Moenkopi Developers Corporation. This year’s FoodCorps service member, Curt Cebula, is building on last year’s progress, expanding greenhouse lessons to all grades and increasing the frequency of taste tests. “The kids love him,” Steven says of Curt. “Sometimes he’ll get 10 hugs before a class starts.”

Curt says he sees once-reluctant students now open to trying new foods—especially when they’ve had a hand in making them. Some parents have even told Steven their kids have asked to start a garden at home.

Moencopi’s parent liaison, Trinity Honahnie, says Curt has been instrumental in engaging the community, another critical ingredient in the FoodCorps recipe. His support of a new school-wide take-home meal kit program, featuring traditional Hopi foods and recipes, has helped parents connect with what’s happening at school while reinforcing healthy habits at home. A taste test he led at a parent-teacher conference sparked a new energy.

“It was just a turnaround overnight,” Trinity says. “Curt has really brought some light to our greenhouse program.”

Principals, teachers, and parents understand that this type of positive change is important. FoodCorps strives to make its program effective, accessible and relevant to all schools. This year it introduced a new series of elementary school hands-on food lessons, each tied to national academic standards, which teachers can adapt and weave into classroom lessons. Thanks to support from funders like the Walmart Foundation, this year FoodCorps will reach 160,000 kids around the country.

At the end of the day, FoodCorps serves to make it easier for schools to do what they do best: give students the nourishment they need, in body and mind, to thrive. It’s the passion of local leaders, like Steven, that makes the impact we seek truly possible.

“This is probably the best job I’ve ever had,” he said.

Erica Curry, director of program resources and practices at FoodCorps, oversees the development of resources for FoodCorps’ service program, including a new series of nutrition education lessons that makes it easier for schools to integrate hands-on nutrition education into standard curricula. FoodCorps is proud to be supported nationally by the Walmart Foundation as together we seek to reach children with high quality, impactful nutrition education that sets kids up for healthy futures.

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