A 16-foot-high orange tower greets shoppers walking into the Walmart store in Arbutus, a symbol in some ways of how important online sales have become to the retail giant.
The self-service kiosk, a high-tech vending machine of sorts, is designed to deliver merchandise ordered online in a matter of seconds after a customer approaches a touchscreen and scans a bar code sent to a smartphone.
Unlike in-store pickup departments, often located in out-of-the-way back areas, the tower near the store entrance can’t be missed. Rather than employees checking for an order, a touchscreen walks customers through the process. Orders are then delivered through the tower.
“We know that...