Walmart Canada's eCommerce Innovation & Smart Distribution

It seems everyone is getting in on the ecommerce game these days, with even the most well-established brick-and-mortar retailers flexing their metaphorical muscles in the online space.

By the end of 2019, the total value of global ecommerce sales is expected to reach $3.45 trillion — equivalent to 13.7% of all global retail sales for the year. By 2040, 95% of all retail sales are expected to be made online. Amazon is obviously the biggest player in the game, and many other brands are playing catch up.

One such brand is retail giant Walmart — the largest company by revenue in the world — which has been leveraging its massive network of stores to back up its online commerce offering. Now, the world-famous retailer is further developing its distribution capabilities.

Walmart Canada

One way in which the Canadian arm of Walmart's organization is achieving this is with the opening of a brand-new smart distribution facility. Developed in partnership with and managed by supply chain experts SCI Canada, the 450,000 square foot center can be found in Mississauga, Ontario.

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"It's exciting that shopping on continues growing in popularity with our customers," said Executive Vice President of Ecommerce for Walmart Canada, Alexis Lanternier. "We've been modernizing and innovating to ensure products can get to our customers in the quickest and most efficient way possible, without compromising on our everyday low prices and the quality customers expect. We're proud to have partnered with SCI to create this distribution center, as it provides a customized end-to-end solution that suits our growing business needs."

The state-of-the-art facility will be responsible for facilitating Walmart Canada's online orders and is packed to the rafters with the very latest in artificial intelligence and automation technology. Intelligent software allows Walmart Canada to gain real-time visibility into its operations and is fully integrated with warehouse management systems. This empowers Walmart Canada to react with agility to changes and adjust and refine its operations as it goes along.

The distribution center employs a four-level 70,000 square foot platform for picking and storing smaller items and pallet racking for larger or high-volume products/orders. Automated conveyors can transport items between levels and through five separate zones, improving capacity as well as the speed and accuracy of order picking.


Another way Walmart Canada is expanding its online operation is by investing more heavily in its partnership with Latin American express on-demand grocery delivery service brand, Cornershop.

Using the Cornershop app or online portal, Walmart Canada customers can order groceries and have them delivered in as little time as 60 minutes. It's this speed and convenience which first attracted Walmart to the brand and, while it was prevented from acquiring Cornershop, it hasn't stopped Walmart from building on their relationship.

Initially piloted in just five Walmart stores in the greater Toronto area, the availability of Cornershop delivery has now been expanded to 14 locations including Scarborough, Mississauga, Malton, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Erin Mills, Downsview, and Ontario.

"Customers in the GTA have more choices than ever for how to shop for on-demand groceries at Walmart," said Vice President of Ecommerce Operations and Logistics at Walmart Ecommerce, Daryl Porter. "By introducing more shopping options at Walmart, we're helping make life easier and more convenient without compromising on our everyday low prices. Cornershop and other delivery services are one way that we can provide that easy, convenient access."

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Once an order is placed, Cornershop delivery associates go to one of the 14 Walmart stores to pick the order. Once it is ready for dispatch, they call the customer to double-check that any substitutions for out of stock products are acceptable or whether they want to add any extra items to the order. This is a particularly nice touch to the service as many grocery home deliveries can cause frustration when customers are given inappropriate substitutions — this author remembers once being given pork sausages as a substitute for vegetarian ones.

Cornershop arranges its workforce so there is high availability for popular time slots and customers can even sign up to a $99 per year premium membership which grants them exclusive discounts and free delivery on orders over $40.

Final Thoughts

It's great to see traditional retailers finding ways to leverage their advantages — such as their physical stores — along with modern technology and advanced distribution methods to take the fight to Amazon. As one of the biggest brands in the world, Walmart is ideally placed to lead this charge.

You can hear Walmart Canada's Director of Data Science, Analytics, SEO & Strategy, Tom Maryniarczyk, speak at eTail Canada 2020, taking place in May at the Hyatt Regency Toronto, ON.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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