Walmart plans to build massive e-commerce fulfillment center in Plainfield

Walmart Inc., which operates a 1.2-million-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Plainfield, plans to add a second facility of similar size on an adjoining site.

The retail behemoth’s existing e-commerce fulfillment center, in Plainfield’s AllPoints Industrial Park, opened in 2015. That operation will soon be joined by a twin facility.

“We’re planning to build a new facility dedicated to fulfilling e-commerce orders for our growing digital business,” Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield told IBJ in an e-mail. “The new facility will be more than one million square feet, located adjacent to our existing facilities in Plainfield, and we anticipate adding hundreds of new jobs over the coming years in the new facility.”

When a project engineer sent a letter to Plainfield officials in March, he indicated the projected construction start date would be in August, with construction taking about a year to complete. 

Hatfield said Walmart is still working through details on when construction will begin.

The move comes as Walmart—like other traditional retailers—is shifting more of its resources from its brick-and-mortar stores to its e-commerce infrastructure.

For the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, for instance, Walmart’s U.S. capital expenditures included $4.5 billion on e-commerce, technology, supply chain and related items. In comparison, the retailer spent $2.9 billion on new stores, expansions and remodelings.

During the previous fiscal year, those expenditures were $4.2 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively.

As of Jan. 31, Walmart’s U.S. distribution network included 157 distribution centers that supplied physical stores, as well as 30 fulfillment centers dedicated to e-commerce. In comparison, Walmart had 22 e-commerce fulfillment centers in 2017, 13 in 2016 and 11 in 2015.

Online sales represent a small but growing percentage of Walmart’s overall sales. For the year ended Jan. 31, the retailer reported total revenue of $500 billion, with comparable-store sales up 2.1 percent. E-commerce sales for the year totaled $11.5 billion, up 44 percent from the previous year.

Walmart says it expects e-commerce sales to grow by about 40 percent this year.

 

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