Walmart is building a high-speed grocery warehouse to solidify its position as the nation’s biggest grocer.
The new distribution center in Shafter, California — halfway between Los Angeles and Fresno — is set to open in the fall of 2020 and will move products in and out 40 percent faster than the company’s existing warehouses, Walmart said Thursday. The building will be equipped with automation technology from Witron, a German supplier of logistics services.
The new center is Walmart’s latest investment to grow its grocery business, which accounts for more than half of U.S. sales and is a bulwark against Amazon.com Inc.’s encroachment. The retailer has improved the presentation and quality of its fresh food, and is expanding curbside pickup and home-delivery options. But getting strawberries and cantaloupes from fields to stores is still a complex, expensive process, and any time saved along the journey translates into increased sales and profits.