Walmart Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207374728/composite WMT +0.60% announced an investment in San Francisco-based self-driving vehicle company, Cruise, on Thursday. Walmart did not specify the size of the investment.
The two companies began working together last November on a delivery pilot program in Scottsdale, AZ .
Cruise’s fleet of vehicles is also all-electric, which is another step in Walmart’s effort to achieve its environmental goals. This week, the retail giant announced its efforts to aid in the protection of pollinator populations.
“As delivery has become a staple in our customers’ lives, we’re focused on growing our last mile ecosystem in a way that’s beneficial for everyone – customers, business and the planet,” wrote John Furner, Walmart U.S. chief executive, in a post on the Walmart website.
Consumer companies have increasingly turned their attention and investment dollars to the efficiency of their delivery service. During the past year, customers have relied on delivery for everything from home goods to groceries as COVID-19 limited store operations and restaurant capacity.
“Working from home and a growing desire to shop online are challenging retailers and consumer goods companies to fundamentally rethink how they cater to the pandemic-adapted consumer,” Accenture wrote in a recent report following a global survey of 9,650 consumers.
Even as the vaccine rollout and recovery continues, experts expect that some consumer behaviors are here to stay, including those that emphasize convenience.
“Leading retailers were quick to adapt to the surge in e-commerce and are using technology to serve customers in new ways,” said Jill Standish, head of Accenture’s global retail industry group, in the report.
“Even in a post-pandemic world, companies will need to satisfy consumers’ appetite for online shopping with fast delivery and get more intentional about the investments they will make in their people, supply chains, physical stores, and digital channels to be well-positioned to drive growth.””
Kroger Co. /zigman2/quotes/206215053/composite KR +0.27% and Ocado /zigman2/quotes/207225647/delayed UK:OCDO +0.03% unveiled their first hi-tech facility in Ohio on Wednesday, which will aid in fulfilling customer orders.
Walmart stock has slipped 2.8% for the year to date while the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.13% is up 11.2% for the period.