Walmart shoppers in Sherman will soon be able to use a vending machine-like system to pick up their online grocery shopping orders from their vehicles at the Supercenter store located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 82.


The new concept takes Walmart’s recently launched in-store delivery system, internally dubbed “the tower” by Walmart employees, to new levels. There will be five-lanes of self-service stations outside built to function in a similar fashion to “the tower” inside. The main difference between the outdoor pick-up and the station inside is the ability for customers to order refrigerated items. Currently those items are not available for the in-store units.


“We’re always trying new ways to make the customer experience better,” Store Manager George Wilthers said.


In May, the Sherman Walmart installed the self-service station inside that allows customers to pick up online orders from a large dispenser. Once customers scan their tickets, the machine retrieves a tray with the ordered items on it and opens the glass doors for the customer to take their items. Items which are too large to fit on a tray are placed in a locker where customers can pick them up following a similar process.


The Walmart in Denison already has a grocery pickup service. However, it is very different from what the Sherman store will be getting by the end of this month. Unlike the Denison store, where a customer pulls up to the store and an employee brings the groceries to them, the new stations coming to Sherman will be entirely self-serve, meaning the Walmart employees and customers will have no direct contact with one another.


That’s not to say employees will not be involved in the process. Once a customer places an order online, a “personal shopper” will prepare the order to be placed in the dispensers.


The entire process will allow customers to purchase groceries on their own schedule from the comfort of their homes, through the Walmart website, Wilthers explained.


“Customers will still have to place orders online, it’s not a vending machine,” Wilthers said.


Although they are designed to be used for dispensing groceries, Wilthers mentioned certain general merchandise items can be placed in the dispenser. It all depends on whether the item can fit on the tray.


Wilthers demonstrated the process and once his ticket was scanned, the tray with the merchandise appeared almost immediately.


“The entire process for the customer takes less than 30 seconds in-store,” Wilthers said.


The program is eventually rolling out to other Walmart stores. Right now the closest store with the program in the area is the one in McKinney. Walmart is planning a public unveiling of the new service lanes at a ceremony to take place on Aug. 18.